The Contract for the National Broadband Plan (NBP) State led intervention, which was signed with National Broadband Ireland (NBI) in November 2019, is a complex and detailed document. It sets out the specific terms of the NBP contract with National Broadband Ireland in respect of the rollout of the high speed broadband network under the State led intervention, which covers 1.1 million people living and working in the over 554,000 premises, including almost 100,000 businesses and farms along some 679 schools.
To protect the State investment and ensure that the NBP milestones and deliverables are met, the contract has been designed to include extensive protections, quality checks, reporting and monitoring obligations.
The NBP Contract provides specific protections in relation to a change in ownership, sale, or change in control of shareholders of NBI. Under the Contract, and up until 12 months after the network build is complete, the prior approval of the Minister is required for any of these events. In the event of a sale of NBI, any new owners will continue to have the same obligations as the original owners.
The Contract also requires the written consent of the Minister prior to the transfer of any interest, direct or indirect, in NBI held by Mr David McCourt. Again, this requirement is in place until 12 months after the network build is complete. It should be noted, however, that approval under these provisions cannot be unreasonably withheld.
In the event that the investors sell the majority of their shareholding in NBI in the first ten years of the Contract, the State will be entitled to clawback a proportion of any profit on sale based on the value of the business at the time of sale.