O'Driscoll to become eNet chairman

 

Two of Ireland's most prominent telecoms executives are joining eNet, a Limerick-based company that is close to signing a contract to manage the State's €170 million telecoms network.

Mr Eoin O'Driscoll, managing director of consulting firm Aderra and former head of Lucent Ireland, confirmed yesterday he would take up a position as chairman of eNet.

He said it was an exciting opportunity but would give no further details about the firm, which is believed to be very close to signing a multimillion euro deal with the Government.

Mr O'Driscoll is also involved in the preparation of the Government's current review of industrial policy and economic competitiveness, as chairman of the Enterprise Strategy Group which was established by the Tánaiste, Ms Harney, last year. This review group is due to publish its long-awaited report shortly.

Meanwhile, it is believed that Mr George McGrath, the former chief executive of Ocean - a telecoms joint venture between British Telecom and ESB - will join eNet in a senior post, probably as chief operating officer.

The senior appointments are likely to be made public if eNet signs the management contract with the State as expected sometime later this month.

ENet, which is a subsidiary of Tiernan Properties, was awarded preferred bidder status in January but has only recently got in place financing to support the multimillion euro telecoms deal.

It is understood the company has secured financial backing from a venture capital firm, some individuals and a bank. Lawyers representing the firm and the State are currently reviewing the text of the proposed contract.

Following conclusion of the deal eNet will manage the State's new fibre optic networks, which are being built in 19 regional towns. It is expected the Government will extend these networks to 88 towns over the next few years to promote development.

ENet, which is headed by Mr Michael Tiernan, managing director of Tiernan Properties, beat off competition from Canadian firm Axia and Dublin-based firm Data Electronics to secure the contract. It is likely that both firms may be asked to provide a contingency plan for the State for the management deal in case there is any further delay to the start-up of the project.

The contract to manage the State's telecoms assets is believed to be worth several million euro over a 10-year period. The State will retain ownership over the fibre optic networks.

The Government has already signed several deals with other telecoms firms, including Smart Telecom, that want to use the new fibre optic networks to supply services to customers.

The new State-owned networks will provide competition for Eircom and Esat BT's existing fibre networks in these areas.