Majority stake in national broadband plan sold to Spanish investment company

The majority owners of Ireland’s National Broadband Plan are selling their stake to a Spanish investor.

Ondon-based Oak Hill Advisors and US investor Twin Point Capital, which together own nearly 80% of National Broadband Ireland (NBI), have agreed to sell to Madrid-based Asterion Industrial Partners. The Spanish investment firm, which recently closed a €1.8bn funding round, specializes in European infrastructure, with technology and telecom investments in the UK (MS3), Spain (Olivenet) and in Italy (Irideos).

NBI declined to disclose the value of the transaction.

But a spokesman said neither Granahan McCourt nor its CEO and chairman, David McCourt, was selling any shares in the sale. There will be no changes to the management team, which is led by CEO Peter Hendrick and Director of Deployment TJ Malone. The agreement has no immediate impact on the deployment of the fiber broadband program.

NBI’s plans to seek new long-term investors were first revealed by the Irish Independent in 2021.

Although the deal has been completed, it now needs government approval and is expected to close this fall. Under the National Broadband Plan contract, incoming investors are subject to the same rules and obligations as outgoing investors.

NBI is building computer and database systems for the national broadband plan that it hopes could be replicated or licensed in other European countries that may pursue similar fiber deployments in the future.

The stock sale comes after the National Broadband Plan recently reported that 22% of households “passed” through the National Broadband Plan have connected to the network.

63,652 of the 559,000 premises to be covered under the seven-year rollout have so far been exceeded, with a target of 102,000 by the end of January 2023. This is significantly behind the original rollout timelines. However, NBI CEO Peter Hendrick recently told an Oireachtas committee that the state-backed €2.7 billion broadband rollout now had “real momentum” and was experiencing “stability” and “predictability” in the deployment schedule, thanks to 300 new workers on the sites and an additional rural construction contractor.

“We welcome Asterion, a partner with decades of experience in telecommunications infrastructure, who will not only help us deliver this hugely ambitious project, but will also bring a long-term commitment to Ireland,” said Granahan McCourt. , CEO and President.

“We are delighted to partner with Asterion, not just in NBI, but with further investment committed to developing a center of excellence in Ireland and delivering on our long-term vision of making Ireland a worldwide recognition for its services. telecommunications”.

Winnie Wutte, founding partner of Asterion, said, “We are delighted to partner with Granahan McCourt and continue to invest in the development of rural fiber infrastructure with NBI, in one of the fastest growing fiber deployments. ambition in the world, providing access to rural connectivity and preparing Ireland for the long-term future.

Oak Hill Advisors partner Musa Sonmez said it had invested “hundreds of millions” in the Irish rollout.

“Being a part of NBI’s history since its inception and helping to establish the company that has made it the world’s best open access wholesale provider has been a privilege,” said Musa Sönmez. “We are confident it will continue to go We are proud of our partnership with Granahan McCourt to make investments in Ireland since 2014, years in which we have invested hundreds of millions of euros to build global operations that will have a lasting legacy. journey alongside Granahan McCourt with future collaborations.”