BT 'pulls out' of £264m BT Ireland sale

(Image credit: BT)

BT has reportedly reversed a decision to sell its Irish business to a private equity firm, seven months after entering into exclusive negotiations with a potential buyer.

The Times reports that BT has had a change of heart over the €300 million deal with Mayfair Equity Partners and its intentions are now unclear. The paper says this is the third time BT has attempted to sale BT Ireland and it was thought that this time the deal would go ahead.

There is no suggestion that the reported collapse of the deal is related to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

BT Ireland

BT Ireland was formed through the acquisition of Irish telco Esat in 2000 and initially served both business and residential customers with landline, broadband and mobile services. However, it now only focuses on fixed line services for the enterprise market.

The Esat Digifone mobile network was consumed by BT Wireless before it was spun off as O2 and eventually sold to Telefonica in 2005 to become O2 Ireland (which itself merged with Three Ireland in 2013.)

Later, in 2009, BT Ireland offloaded its consumer and small business customers to Vodafone in order to focus on its corporate business.

The division employs 600 people and has a 2,500km fibre network running alongside major road and rail routes in the country. In 2018 it recorded €34 million profits on €425 million of sales.

Sky, Three and Vodafone are all customers while BT Ireland also provides 999 emergency services for the Irish government.

However BT Group CEO Philip Jansen has been keen to divest non-core assets in other countries, especially in its BT Global Services division, and instead corporate clients and multinationals with cloud services.

BT’s business units have undergone a series of changes ever since an accounting scandal in Italy in 2016. In 2018, BT combined its Business and Public Sector and its Wholesale and Ventures divisions into BT Enterprise, while BTGS has been handed a new strategic direction.

A deal for BT's Latin American operations was recently agreed while the company is in talks with Computercenta about its French business.

TechRadar Pro has contacted BT for comment.

Via The Times

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.