Iliad’s majority shareholder, French billionaire Xavier Niel (pictured), is in talks to buy a significant stake in Republic of Ireland-based fixed and mobile operator eir through investment company NJJ Capital, The Irish Times said.

Eir, which in July rebranded its Meteor mobile business under the corporate brand, is the incumbent fixed operator with a total of 2 million customers across its divisions. It underwent privatisation in 1999 and since had a number of different owners and large stakeholders.

The company’s largest shareholder is currently US hedge fund Anchorage Capital Group. Reports in Ireland’s media earlier this month suggested the investment group was mulling its options for cashing-in its stake, including a stock market float or private sale.

In a statement to investors yesterday, eir’s holding company said “major shareholders” had been approached by a potential investor who “may wish to make a significant investment”. No further detail was released by the operator.

Niel’s Iliad disrupted the French market, sparking a price war with the launch of discount brand Free, and is now setting its sights on Italy. Its new operation is set to go live in late 2017 or early 2018.

NJJ Capital is also the majority shareholder in Monaco Telecom and Swiss operator Salt Mobile.

In addition to his telecoms portfolio, Niel also holds a large stake in a number of media assets including a share of a controlling interest in French national newspaper Le Monde, according to Bloomberg, and is part owner of the rights for Frank Sinatra hit My Way.