O’Brien raises Eircom stakes

The entrepreneur’s Elsland group has increased its cash offer for the telecoms company to over E3bn.

Elsland, the bidding vehicle set up by Denis O’Brien, the Irish tycoon, has raised its cash offer for telecoms group Eircom to E1.32 per share, including a final dividend of E0.246.

The offer values the Irish telecoms company at more than E3bn. According to O’Brien, it is five cents per share higher than the rival offer made by Valentia, the consortium led by Tony O’Reilly and backed by financiers including George Soros.

In an interview with RTE, a radio station, O’Brien described Elsland’s offer as a “knockout blow” to Valentia.

In a statement, he said “we challenge the board of Eircom to do the right thing and recommend the best offer.” Analysts said the new offer would have to be taken seriously, Reuters reports.

O’Brien also commented on his appearance before the Moriarty Tribunal in Ireland over allegations that he paid a minister I£100,000 when seeking a mobile phone license for Esat.

His giving evidence before the tribunal should not be considered an obstacle to Elsland’s completing a deal with Eircom, he said. “First of all, I am continuing to give my evidence, but I think the fact that one of the biggest financial institutions in the world, JP Morgan Chase, would underwrite a bit for three billion I think answers that question”, O’Brien said.