British Telecommunications Plc has signed a 75m pound agreement for the formation of an equally owned joint venture company with The Republic of Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board for an as yet unnamed Irish competitive telecoms operator, as part of BT’s efforts to become a pan European telecoms operator. BT denied the move was influenced by the success of the Energis Plc 850m pound flotation earlier this week. Energis is the telecommunications arm of the UK’s National Grid power company. The BT/ESB deal was rubber stamped on the same day. The two will invest 75m pounds in the first five years of the venture, to wire up overhead pylons and power conduits with fiber optic cable. International and business services will be sold via the Concert arm of BT, and the company will offer full competitive telecommunications services when the Irish Telecoms market is fully opened up in January 2000, two years behind the rest of Europe. The entity will start laying cable in the spring, and start offering services throughout Ireland, but BT is not revealing the amount of optic fiber that is planned, or how fast the network will be built. BT says that its major current European ventures show that utilities make good partners. It is teamed in the Netherlands with railway operator Nederlandse Spoorwegen (CI No. 2,996), in Germany with Viag AG’s electrical utility subsidiary Bayernwerk AG, and in France with railway operator SCNF.