Flamboyant entrepreneur Xavier Niel – often described as France’s most influential person – is close to finalising a deal to take a majority holding in Eir, Ireland’s biggest telecoms company.
Neil, who in 2014 bought the majority stake in Monaco Telecom previously owned by Cable & Wireless Communications, is expected to take a stake of 90 percent currently held by US funds Anchorage Capital and Davidson Kempner and Singapore’s GIC.
The deal would value the former state-owned company at €1.5 billion. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the year. The sale would be the sixth change of ownership since 1999.
Niel, 50, is the man behind Iliad, the internet service provider and owner of France’s Free mobile service. In addition to his holding in Monaco Telecom, he is also co-owner of the French newspaper Le Monde. He is said to be close to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk.