THE MAN who engineered Virgin Media’s $24bn (£15bn) blockbuster sale to Liberty Global has unveiled ambitious plans to take advantage of frenzied deal activity in Europe’s telecoms market.
Ex-Virgin Media finance boss Eamonn O’Hare’s dramatic come-back, revealed last night, will involve raising cash in London to snap up struggling telecoms assets across the continent.
Along with former Virgin colleague Robert Samuelson, O’Hare is hoping to benefit from the fallout from a number of mergers and acquisitions in the European telecom market. Several units of merged companies will have to be spun off in the mergers, and the pair will be looking at “the fragments that are created that telcos need to dispose”.
In the UK alone, £22.5bn of deals are set to transform the mobile, broadband and TV markets. Sky is eyeing up a partnership with O2, which itself could be bought by Three.
Meanwhile BT is looking at EE. Elsewhere in Europe, Vivendi last week accepted a bid for its stake in French operator Numericable-SFR. O’Hare and Samuelson have set up an investment vehicle named Zegona to acquire and operate businesses in the European sector. The company announced its intention last night to seek admission of its shares to trading on London’s secondary market, Aim. At first it will test the water with a relatively small £30m placing, hoping to grow large enough to eventually acquire a £1bn-£3bn portfolio. Zegona hope to attract institutional investors.
A Zegona spokesman told City A.M.: “The current dynamics of the European sector, with the rapid growth of data consumption, convergence of services and consolidation of operators, create multiple investment opportunities and the potential to realise attractive returns with Zegona’s ‘Buy-Fix-Sell’ strategy.”
He said “about 50” assets had been identified, including many “big companies in small markets”.
JP Morgan Securities is acting as joint bookrunner and joint broker. Oakley Capital is joint bookrunner. Cenkos Securities is acting as nominated adviser and joint broker.