Iliad makes $ 4.2 billion bid for Polish telecommunications company Play

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PARIS (Reuters) – The Iliad of France ILD.PA decided to become the sixth mobile operator in Europe on Monday with plans to buy Play Poland PLY.WA in a 3.5 billion euro ($ 4.2 billion) deal.

FILE PHOTO: Guests wait before French telecommunications operator Iliad attends the press conference in Milan, Italy on May 29, 2018. REUTERS / Stefano Rellandini

Iliad, who has already agreed to buy 40% of Play from two shareholders, said he had now bid on the entire operator at 39 zlotys per share, a premium of 38.8% over the closing of Play Friday.

He said the deal, his third move out of France after buying a minority stake in Irish and launching in Italy in 2018, gives Play a value of € 2.2 billion and a value of company, including debt, of around 3.5 billion euros.

“This agreement is a major chapter in our internationalization strategy. This will make us the sixth largest mobile operator in Europe, ”Thomas Reynaud, CEO of Iliad, told reporters.

With 38 million inhabitants, Poland represents a dynamic telecoms market with enormous opportunities for growth, he added.

Iliad will have 41 million subscribers in France, Poland and Italy with the addition of Play. It has 20 million in France after its Free brand opened up the mobile market nearly a decade ago with low-cost landline, Internet and television offers.

Reynaud declined to comment on further geographic expansion, but said that in France Iliad will launch a corporate telecommunications company and step up in the fiber business, and in Italy it will offer high-speed internet.

Play is the latest addition to the mobile market in Poland and has accumulated 15 million subscribers and a 29% market share since 2007 to become its main operator with 2,800 employees.

In the past 12 months, Play has made a base profit of 523 million euros on a turnover of 1.6 billion euros.

Iliad said the acquisition will pay off from the year and that the offer, which will begin on October 19 and close on November 17, will be funded by debt and cash.

Report by Geert De Clercq; Edited by Kim Coghill, Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Alexander Smith

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