Canadian firm Brookfield Asset Management injected a further €15.65m into Irish telecoms firm Imagine Communications last year, new filings show.
A series of filings processed by the Companies Registration Office between 13th and 19th March record seven separate surrenders of awards for Imagine made from March to December 2021 and record investments in the Irish business by a London entity by Brookfield.
The latest funding comes on top of the approximately €29 million Brookfield invested in the business in 2020 and 2019, again via a series of ongoing payments.
The funds came as Imagine, led by Sean Bolger, continues to roll out a wireless network aiming to bring high-speed 5G broadband to rural Ireland.
Imagine is building fixed wireless broadband connections in rural areas that don’t have access to alternative high-speed internet options.
While the launch of 5G cellular services by the likes of Vodafone, Three and Eir hasn’t found an audience, the Imagine service has proved more popular. Latest figures from ComReg, the communications regulator, put fixed wireless broadband subscriptions at just over 80,000 properties, showing a 29 percent year-on-year increase.
Brookfield acquired a 31 percent economic stake in Imagine in 2018 in a deal that reportedly valued the Irish company at €200 million, including a €120 million commitment to fund the capital-intensive technology rollout.
The deal gave Brookfield a 55 percent voting interest in Imagine. The Canadian company has effective control over the Irish group.
Previous accounts for Imagine, which employs around 252 people, showed it also received a €25.5 million cash injection in 2018.
Imagine’s last published financial statements are from 2020 and show that the wireless broadband services company posted sales of €27 million – up from €20 million in 2019. Although the business is making losses.
Brookfield told shareholders at the time that the Imagine acquisition gave the Canadian group a first entry point into technology services.
“The technology sector is an area with great potential for us.”
Imagine was one of several telecom companies awarded a spot on the state’s 3.6GHz wireless spectrum in 2017, paving the way for the rollout of super-fast 5G networks.
The company made a leap into rural markets by beginning to build its network while the National Broadband Plan (NBP) was still in its long incubation period.
Meanwhile, Brookfield has itself sold its other major Irish investment – the wind farms and developments bought as part of the €700m privatization of Bord Gáis in 2014.
A filing in Canada last year shows that Brookfield booked a CA$48 million gain from the €571 million sale of development assets to Danish wind turbine maker Orsted.
It had previously recouped a significant portion of Bord Gáis’ original expenses through a sale of wind farms to Greencoat Renewables in 2017, allowing the Canadian asset manager to forego half of its original investment to shareholders while preserving the business and to expand
https://www.independent.ie/business/asset-management-company-brookfield-pumps-15m-into-telecoms-firm-imagine-41468745.html The asset manager Brookfield pumps 15 million euros into the telecommunications company Imagine