France: The EIB and iliad sign a new €300 million loan agreement to finance 4G and 5G network rollouts
18 November 2020
The iliad Group and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have set up a new €300 million loan to help the Group finance its mobile network rollouts in France, particularly to densify its 4G network and deploy its 5G network.
Having helped to finance iliad’s fixed network rollouts for over ten years now, the EIB is once again partnering the Group by providing financial support for rolling out its latest-generation mobile networks. This new loan brings iliad’s total amount of EIB financing to over €1.1 billion since 2009.
At iliad, network rollouts remain an absolute priority. On average, the Group invests almost 30% of its revenues in its rollouts every year, making a total of nearly €7.5 billion over the last five years. iliad’s large-scale rollout drive illustrates how deeply committed it is to the objective of giving the whole of France digital coverage, including in the most rural areas. This commitment can be clearly seen in the Group’s involvement in the French government’s “New Deal for Mobile” program.
Thanks to its investments, the Group now has more than 18,800 mobile sites across Metropolitan France and offers 4G coverage to 97.8% of the French population.
“Supporting innovation and the deployment of new technologies is a priority for the European Investment Bank. That is why I’m delighted to announce this new loan granted to the iliad Group”, said Ambroise Fayolle, Vice-President of the EIB, adding“In the current health crisis, it is more important than ever for everyone, everywhere, to have access to reliable and high-quality connectivity. By granting this loan to iliad we are supporting the development and appeal of France’s regions, particularly for rural and isolated areas.”
“We’re delighted with this partnership with the EIB, which will enable us to actively pursue the rollout and densification of our mobile networks. Providing the best connectivity to everyone, nationwide, is what we’re working together to achieve at iliad. We intend to pursue our rollouts at a brisk pace, particularly in view of the upcoming launch of our 5G offers and entry into the B2B market”,said Thomas Reynaud, Chief Executive Officer of the iliad Group.
Thanks to the EIB’s triple-A rating, the loan’s underlying financial terms are very attractive. It also has a long maturity of up to eight years, which is particularly suited to the type and duration of the Group’s capital expenditure.
About the EIB Group
The EIB Group was very active in France in 2019, directly or indirectly granting almost €8.5 billion in financing to support projects in key domains for the French economy, such as the development of ultra-fast broadband, environmental protection and energy transition, training for young people, business and innovation support, and infrastructure upgrades.
iliad is the parent company of Free, the inventor of the Freebox, the first multiservice box on ADSL. Free is behind numerous innovations in the Broadband and Ultra-Fast Broadband access segment (VoIP, IPTV, flat-rate calling plans to multiple destinations, etc.) and provides straightforward and innovative offerings at the best prices. Since January 2012, Free has brought mobile phone usage within everyone’s reach with straightforward, no-commitment offerings at very attractive prices. As at September 30, 2020, Free had over 20 million subscribers in France (6.7 million Broadband and Ultra-Fast Broadband subscribers and 13.5 million mobile subscribers). On May 29, 2018, the Group launched its mobile network in Italy under the iliad brand, becoming the country’s fourth operator, and had over 6.8 million subscribers at September 30, 2020.
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