Belfast Telegraph

Private equity firm gobbles up Republic

By Donal O'Donovan

Private equity giant Blackstone is emerging as one of the Republic's most important businesses.

US-based Blackstone will be the biggest single shareholder in Eircom after the company goes into examinership at the end of the month.

It's just the latest in a string of transactions that are pushing US investor Blackstone to the heart of Ireland's business scene. The Eircom stake will be held through its Blackstone GSO and Harbourmaster units once a "debt-for-equity" deal is completed over the summer.

The Eircom deal follows a rush of activity that has seen Blackstone become ubiquitous in Ireland in just months.

The other big global players picking over the wreckage of the Irish economy have tended to stick to a specific sector, but Blackstone is everywhere.

It's here as an investor in its own right on deals such as Eircom and an earlier unsuccessful effort to buy €6m (£5m) of US property loans from NAMA last summer.

Blackstone acquired Irish rival Harbourmaster last October - a transaction that brought control of €8bn (£6.6bn) of assets, incidentally raised its holding in Eircom.

It's acting for the Irish Bank Resolution Corp (IBRC) as the former Anglo Irish Bank figures out how to sell off its assets, and has been quietly advising lenders to north-south power supplier Viridian for two years on how to maximise its recovery on around €2bn (£1.7bn) of loans.

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