Irish telecoms firm eircom considers public listing

DUBLIN Fri Apr 11, 2014 3:50pm EDT

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DUBLIN (Reuters) - Irish telecoms firm eircom said it is considering floating on the stock market for the third time in 15 years and has hired investment bank Rothschild to advise on the process.

The former state telecoms operator filed for protection from its creditors two years ago to restructure 3.75 billion euros ($5.2 billion) of debt and was taken over by its senior lenders after cutting its debt by 40 percent.

The examinership - akin to the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process in the United States and administration in Britain - was the largest in Irish corporate history and saw nearly all of the company's junior debt wiped out.

It obtained approval last month from its lenders to an amendment request that will see its loans and equity split and traded separately, and also extended the maturity of a significant portion of the loan facilities to 2019 from 2017.

"Following the successful outcome of the amend and extend process, the board is now exploring a number of options with a view to further strengthening the financial position of the group," eircom said in a statement on Friday.

"These options include a possible listing on a public market."

eicom's first major foray into privatization in 1999 saw shares collapse after an initial public offering (IPO) marketed as a one-way bet to the Irish public.

It built up its debt during a series of changes of ownership and briefly refloated in 2004 before delisting two years later.

Ireland has seen some recovery in its IPO market over the last year following the country's financial crisis and moves by many of its major companies to switch their primary listing to Britain.

Two real estate investment trusts have joined the Irish stock exchange .ISEQ in the past nine months, with a third to follow later this month, while the country's largest hotel operator also listed its shares last month.

($1 = 0.7201 Euros)

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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