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GIC to buy up to 230 million euros of phone carrier Eir’s shares

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Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC plans to buy a stake valued at as much as US$260 million in Eir, an Irish phone carrier that more than two years ago pulled plans to raise money through a public share sale.

[SINGAPORE] Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC plans to buy a stake valued at as much as 230 million euros (S$352 million) in Eir, an Irish phone carrier that more than two years ago pulled plans to raise money through a public share sale.

GIC will acquire the shares at 232 euros apiece from existing shareholders, according to a statement on Eir's website. Shareholders with smaller percentage holdings will be given the opportunity to participate in the sale and hedge fund Anchorage Capital Group LLC will remain the largest owner with more than 35 per cent of the group's shares, according to the statement.

Eir, which was rebranded from Eircom Group in 2015, pulled plans to join the stock market almost two years ago as shareholders concluded they would extract more value by not selling the shares. The company, which backed out of the plan to sell shares for the third time in 15 years, was planning to raise as much as one billion euros to further reduce its debt position, three people familiar with the matter said in 2014.

This isn't the first time a Singapore fund is taking interest in the company. Singapore Technologies Telemedia, a company owned by Temasek Holdings Pte, invested in the phone carrier in 2010, but exited its investment in 2012, at the height of the region's debt crisis after a restructuring plan was rejected by senior lenders, according to a Thursday report in the Irish Times. The newspaper reported on Thursday that the Qatar Investment Authority is also in talks to acquire a stake in Eir.

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The telecom firm came out of bankruptcy protection in 2012 after creditors wrote off 40 per cent of its more than four billion euros in gross debt, which was accumulated during a series of ownership changes.

A spokeswoman for GIC confirmed the transaction and declined to comment further.

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