Eir earnings rise as it prepares to roll out rural broadband

Company reports half-yearly revenues rose 4% to €653m

Chief executive Richard Moat envisaged that Eir would bid alone for the NBP, which will be awarded in two regional tranches

Chief executive Richard Moat envisaged that Eir would bid alone for the NBP, which will be awarded in two regional tranches

 

Eir, which yesterday reported half-yearly revenues up 4 per cent to €653 million, has vowed to press ahead with the rollout of fibre broadband to 300,000 rural homes.

Originally earmarked as part of a €275 million State-subsidised scheme, Eir wants to go ahead despite an ongoing row with the Government over its plan.

Richard Moat, Eir chief executive, said the company was “commencing the rollout [of fibre] to the 300,000 homes right now”, despite the fact they were originally supposed to be part of the State-subsidised National Broadband Plan (NBP).

Eir’s insistence that it will bring fibre to these homes has queered the pitch for the NBP.

It is against EU rules for the State to subsidise broadband in areas that a private operator has committed to serve, leading to an acknowledgment from Government that it may have to “move the goal posts” on the upcoming NBP tender as a result of Eir’s plan.

Mr Moat said he envisaged that Eir would bid alone for the NBP, which will be awarded in two regional tranches.

It is believed that the total investment to supply for the two parts of the tender could be in excess of €1.5 billion.

Eir, which is controlled by lenders, primarily US fund Anchorage Capital, will likely have to raise new equity to fund its participation in the NBP if it is successful.

Mr Moat said a flotation of Eir, which was mooted in late 2014 before the plan was abandoned, is not on the agenda at the moment, partly because markets are in turmoil.

Other leading bidders for the NBP include E-Net and also Siro, a joint venture between Vodafone and ESB.