A Noonan at the heart of the French takeover of Eir

Orla Noonan – daughter of Michael – is likely to have provided insights as Iliad circled Eir

Iliad and fellow Xavier Niel-controlled telecoms firm NJJ are set to take a 64.5 per cent stake early next year. Photograph: Maxwells

Iliad and fellow Xavier Niel-controlled telecoms firm NJJ are set to take a 64.5 per cent stake early next year. Photograph: Maxwells

 

As French billionaire Xavier Niel circled Eir in recent months, before agreeing to take a majority stake the phone company through two companies he controls, the entrepreneur didn’t have to look too far to find someone familiar with Ireland’s economic and political climate.

Orla Noonan, an investment banker turned media executive, is on the board of one of his companies, Paris-listed telecoms group Iliad, which is taking a 31.6 per cent stake in Eir.

She also happens to be the daughter of former minister for finance Michael Noonan, who stepped down in June in favour of the backbenches after more than five years steering Ireland through the financial crisis.

She began her career with investment bank Salomon Brothers (now part of Citigroup) in London, where she focused on media and telecoms mergers and acquisitions, before joining French media production, channels and distribution company AB Group in 1996.

She became chief executive of the AB Group in 2014, continuing in the role even after a consortium called Mediawan, led by Niel, bought out the firm earlier this year for €270 million.

The high-flying graduate of Trinity College Dublin economics department and HEC Paris business school has been a nonexecutive of Iliad since 2009, according to her LinkedIn profile, and is likely to have brought keen insights as the board deliberated the investment.

With Iliad and fellow Niel-controlled telecoms firm NJJ set to take a 64.5 per cent stake early next year, marking Eir’s seventh change of ownership in less than two decades, the deal will hopefully end its promiscuous days.

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