Speaking at the TIF Charity Ball tonight:
Clearly the role of the incumbent, eircom, will be important in the context of investment for high speed broadband. I am aware that the ownership of the company is under consideration at the moment. It would not be appropriate for me to comment on any specific proposals that have emerged in this regard. I can, however, indicate that State ownership of eircom is not on my agenda. Nevertheless, the Government does attach very significant importance to eircom given its national telecommunications reach. I want to see an ownership and management in eircom that is focussed on efficient operating structures and on investment for the future. I believe eircom has much to offer an investor with a long term, strategic focus. The company generated revenues of over €2 billion in 2008 and had an operating profit (EBITDA) of over €700 million. However, the short term ownership model that we have witnessed in recent years leaves much to be desired and I would not welcome a similar model again. I would welcome, and indeed I would seek to facilitate in whatever ways I can, an investor who would have the capacity to invest in a long term business model that is bandwidth focussed. Cross platform competition is clearly critical to market development and the policy environment will continue to encourage platform competition. Similarly, open access and consumer protection will continue to be key policy and regulatory priorities. In that context, I believe eircom offers a collaboration minded investor, with a strong commitment to truly open access, a significant opportunity for solid investment. I further believe that the regulatory principles that I outlined above can facilitate eircom, and indeed, all service operators in making the necessary investment on a commercial basis.
Sounds like the State will help an investor out if they guarantee some things. I wonder would the Government do like they did when they bulk bought international bandwidth and resold it at cost?