Eir owner Iliad still wants to grow operations in Italy after failed bid

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French telecoms operator Iliad, which owns Eir in Ireland, is focused on growing its Italian business on a standalone basis, the head of Iliad’s operations in Italy has said. 

Iliad will have to assess how the Italian market is reshaped after a merger agreed between Vodafone’s Italian unit and Swisscom’s Fastweb and Telecom Italia’s planned network spin-off, said Benedetto Levi.

Investors are closely monitoring Iliad’s next move on takeovers in Italy after its failed bid to combine its assets with those of Vodafone in Italy to create an operator with a combined enterprise value of €14.7bn. 

“As we have said from our entry in Italy, we have shown ourselves to be a long-term investor,” said Mr Levi in Milan.

“If there are opportunities we will look at them, but as of today industrial strategy is to continue on our path.

“It is difficult to say what the market will be like 15 to 18 months from now. What I can say is that we have solid fundamentals for organic growth.

We want to grow a lot not only in mobile but also in fibre. Let’s see how the market will move.” 

Iliad’s entry into Italy six years ago spurred aggressive price competition across the Italian retail telecoms market, especially in the mobile segment. 

Mr Levi said the French telecoms operator has more than 11m customers in Italy, with some 276,000 net additions in the first quarter of the year. 

Iliad, which is owned by French billionaire Xavier Niel, increased its shareholding for a controlling stake in Eir over seven years ago. 

  • Reuters. Additional reporting Irish Examiner

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