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UPDATE 1-Biggest Euskaltel investor sees smooth passage for MasMovil bid

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LONDON, March 29 (Reuters) - The head of the biggest shareholder in Euskaltel said he expected investors and regulators to back the Spanish telecoms group’s planned purchase by MasMovil and clear the way for an early fourth-quarter close.

Eamonn O’Hare, head of UK-listed Zegona, told Reuters he had a high confidence that the deal would complete and he would then consider what to do with the proceeds. Zegona owns 21.4% of Euskaltel and has two seats on the board.

MasMovil announced the near 2 billion euro purchase on Sunday.

“It’s going to be a slam dunk,” he said, of a deal that already has the backing of 52.32% of Euskaltel’s shareholders and needs to get 75% plus one share level for it to pass.

O’Hare, a former telecoms and retail executive who launched Zegona to buy assets, fix them and sell, said they only needed another eight investors to back the deal. “We know quite a few of the eight,” he said.

Zegona expects regulators in Spain to examine the deal, rather than Brussels, and O’Hare said the Euskaltel board saw it as a friendly move. “You’re going from five players to four players and we think that won’t be a big deal,” he said.

“We’ve always said that Euskaltel is a piece in the consolidation puzzle, it was the easiest piece for people to consolidate because the regulatory hurdles were very low,” he said.

The transaction values the six-year-old Zegona at 1.70 pounds per share. It had closed at 94.5 pence on Friday.

Unlike private equity, the group plans to be very hands on and only invest in one or possibly two projects at a time, allowing them to take a role in running the business, launching new brands and seeking out consolidation opportunities.

O’Hare said Portugal, Ireland and Britain looked interesting after it quits Spain, which it entered with the purchase of Telecable in 2015 before it sold it into Euskaltel.

“We’re selling, it’s a cash deal, we’re going to get our money and fill the suitcases and take it back to London,” he said. (Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by James Davey/Guy Faulconbridge)

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