The jungle book

Retelit owner takes 80% stake in Irish broadband company

Asterion, a Madrid-based infrastructure investor, has bought an 80% stake in National Broadband Ireland (NBI) from Oak Hill Advisors, Twin Point Capital and some minority shareholders.

Winnie Wutte (pictured), founding partner of Asterion Industrial Partners, said NBI is “one of the world’s most ambitious fiber deployments, providing access to rural, long-term and future-proof connectivity in Ireland”.

She participated in the creation of Asterion in 2018, after 10 years spent with the European branch of the American investment company Kohlberg Kravis Robert (KKR). Asterion acquired Italian telecommunications operator Retelit last year and last month invested in a rural fiber company in Spain.

David McCourt, Chairman of NBI and Chief Executive Officer of remaining lead investor, Granahan McCourt Capital, said Ability this morning: “We wanted committed long-term investors in Ireland and people who understand telecommunications. We deserve a long-term shareholder who is committed to Ireland.

Now, he says, he wants to offer NBI’s expertise to other fiber projects across Europe. “We want to figure out how to produce what we do – an open access wholesale network.”

It also wants to build a broadband center of excellence in Ireland, details of which will soon be revealed.

NBI provides wholesale services to three of the major carriers in Ireland, Comcast’s Sky, Liberty Global’s Virgin Media and Vodafone. “But there are 52 phone companies on our network,” McCourt said. Ability.

Wutte agrees with the company’s Center of Excellence plan: “We are…committed to the opportunity to create a Center of Excellence in Ireland in partnership with Granahan McCourt to open up huge opportunities for term in the Irish market and to further consolidate its leading position in the Irish market. the provision of a gigabit company.

McCourt said Ability that NBI is now building at the rate of past 8,000 to 10,000 homes per month. The company has a 25-year mandate from the Irish government to build wholesale broadband infrastructure to 559,000 premises in rural areas and over 1.1 million people. The mandate includes all new homes built in the area over the next 25 years.

Construction is falling behind schedule, largely due to the Covid pandemic, ‘which meant we weren’t allowed to bring in the main contractors from the UK, we couldn’t put two people in at once. a van, and we couldn’t put them in an Airbnb”.

Nevertheless, NBI has 199,303 premises under construction or built, of which 63,662 have now gone through fiber.

McCourt said: “At NBI we are extremely proud to bring state-of-the-art broadband infrastructure to over 1.1 million citizens across rural Ireland and in doing so help Ireland to have years ahead of the EU’s goal of a gigabit society by 2030.”

McCourt has been a serial telecommunications entrepreneur since 1982, when he established McCourt Cable Systems, which has become the largest private designer and builder of cable systems in the United States.

Since then, he has managed companies that have invested in television stations and built or operated telephone networks and cable television networks on both sides of the Atlantic.

His big move to Ireland came in 2013 when his investment company acquired Enet, which operates the National Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) on behalf of the Irish government, as well as a majority stake in Dublin-based AirSpeed ​​Telecom. , a business communications provider in Ireland.

McCourt’s Granahan McCourt Capital will continue to own 6% of NBI. Tetrad, another existing shareholder, will retain its 13%, with BNI management holding the remaining 1%.

The existing management team, led by CEO Peter Hendrick, will remain.