INSIDE THE WORLD OF BUSINESS
Sky is reaching for the stars
Sky’s the limit for BSkyB’s growth plans for Ireland, according to its chief executive Jeremy Darroch yesterday.
The satellite broadcaster set up by Rupert Murdoch in the late 1980s has opened an impressive corporate headquarters in Dublin 4 and it is recruiting feverishly as it gears up to launch residential broadband and telephone services in February.
Sky doesn’t release any meaningful data for its Irish operation – either subscribers, turnover or profits – but there are more than 700,000 of its set-top boxes in the market.
It’s a position of strength for Sky as it prepares to launch into broadband and telephone here. Even so, muscling in on these markets won’t be easy.
Cable TV rival UPC has made impressive progress with its triple play – TV, broadband and telephone – over the past couple of years.
At the end of last September, UPC had 294,300 broadband customers. This figure increased by 22 per cent year-on-year. It also had 223,400 telephone customers, which was up 55 per cent year-on-year.
UPC also has by far the fastest broadband speeds with its basic offering now 50Mb.
Market leader Eircom has 979,000 fixed-line phone customers and 459,000 broadband, although these are declining as competitors eat into their market share with cheaper and faster products.
However, Eircom has a new chief executive, American Herb Hribar, and an ambitious network investment programme aimed at keeping it in the game.
British mobile phone giant Vodafone is also an active competitor in these markets.
An interesting battle lies ahead. The winners – in the near term at least – should be consumers, with prices likely to fall as the companies fight for market share.
Pay day delayed but on course for Coulson
Paul Coulson’s big pay day at Ardagh will be delayed until the end of the year as the company digests its latest acquisition, Bloomberg reported yesterday.
The company filed registration documents to kick off its planned US initial public offering as far back as last May.
But Couslon (right), the biggest shareholder in the firm seemed in no great rush to get the job done which was understandable given the rather dislocated state of the equity markets over the past six months and the strength of the corporate bond market
Ardagh funded its $1.7 billion purchase of the US business of Saint-Gobain’s Verallia glass bottle-and- jar unit through a $1.6 billion bond issue that was was six times oversubscribed , according to Bloomberg.
As far as the IPO goes time would now appear to be Ardagh’s friend in many ways. Not least because it will allow the company to integrate its latest acquisition into its existing US operations .
Ardagh will have sales of more than €5.4 billion after buying Verallia and expects to generate $85 million of annual savings and benefits in from the deal. Most of the savings and benefits will flow from the combination of Verallia with Tampa, Florida-based Anchor Glass Container , which Ardagh bought last year for $880 million.