French operator group Iliad unveiled plans to acquire Polish operator Play in a €3.5 billion deal, to further expand its footprint in Europe.
In a statement, Iliad said it will launch a public tender for the operator for PLN 39 per share, with binding agreements struck with Play’s two largest shareholders for the same price, to acquire their respective 40 per cent stakes. This will result in Iliad having the majority of seats on Play’s board of directors.
Iliad noted Play had “seen exceptional growth" over the past 15 years in the Polish market, amassing a base of 15 million subscribers and 29% share, making it the leading operator in the country.
In a note to investors, Iliad explained the venture into Poland presents an opportunity for growth as Poland is Europe’s sixth-largest market with GDP growing 6% on average year-on-year for the last 20 years.
Thomas Reynaud, Iliad CEO said: “This excellent alliance constitutes a new growth driver for the Iliad Group and gives it access to one of Europe’s high-potential telecom markets. Pooling the expertise of Play’s and Iliad's teams will reinforce the Iliad Group’s fundamentals through a combination of growth and innovation. The transaction will make Iliad the sixth-largest telecom operator in Europe. Fully committed to implementing its Odyssey 2024 Plan, Iliad is a solid group that is pursuing its expansion with confidence.”
Jean-Marc Harion, chairman of Play’s Management Board, said: “This alliance with the Iliad Group marks an important chapter in Play’s history, as it will accelerate its business development in fixed services. Play and Iliad share the same values and overall corporate vision. Our Board of Directors has unanimously approved the deal, firmly convinced of its strategic fit and value creation potential for Play’s shareholders.”
The deal is subject to clearance from regulatory authorities such as the European Commission.