Polkomtel SA received a joint offer from TPG Capital and Blackstone Group LP as Poland’s largest mobile-phone operator may be sold in a deal valued at more than $5 billion, according to two people with knowledge of the bid.
About 10 offers were submitted, according to two people, who declined to be named as the process isn’t public. Spokespeople for private-equity firms TPG and Blackstone declined to comment. TeliaSonera AB, Sweden’s largest phone company, said it put in an indicative bid.
Polkomtel’s owners, including Vodafone Group Plc, copper producer KGHM Polska Miedz SA, power utility PGE SA and oil refiner PKN Orlen SA, approached potential buyers last month to solicit bids for an initial round that ended yesterday. The management board will be informed of the identities of the bidders on Feb. 25, spokeswoman Katarzyna Meller said yesterday. She declined to comment on the process today. The bidders will be cut down to a shortlist in the next weeks, one person said.
“It’s a bolt-on acquisition rather than intramarket consolidation,” said Andrew Hogley, a London-based analyst at Execution Noble. “Something around 16 billion zlotys to 20 billion zlotys ($5.5 billion to $6.9 billion) is probably about the right range based on the quite limited financial disclosure that we’ve seen.”
TeliaSonera, which has units in Finland, Norway, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia as well as a stake in Russia’s OAO MegaFon, wants to transfer its experience in building mobile broadband and data services if it wins Polkomtel. The company was the first to offer Apple Inc.’s iPhone in the region and currently sells smartphones to nine out of 10 handset customers in Sweden, boosting its mobile-data revenue.
“The advisers to the sellers will select who can continue,” TeliaSonera spokeswoman Cecilia Edstroem said by phone.
America Movil SAB, Latin America’s largest wireless carrier, said last week that it may bid for Polkomtel to counter slowing growth in its home markets. Telenor ASA of Norway, Telefonica SA of Spain and Polish businessman Zygmunt Solorz-Zak were among 20 investors who took sale documents, according to a report in Rzeczpospolita on Feb. 9.
Dag Melgaard, a Telenor spokesman, declined to comment, as did a Telefonica spokesman who asked not to be identified, citing company policy.
Polkomtel, operator of the Plus brand, has almost 14 million customers for basic voice and third-generation wireless services, according to the Warsaw-based company’s website. It competes with Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa, owned by Deutsche Telekom AG, and France Telecom SA’s Orange.
Herbert Wirth, chief executive officer of KGHM, said in November that the 2008 sale by Denmark’s TDC A/S of a 20 percent stake in Polkomtel was the minimum valuation in the current sale. The TDC deal valued Polkomtel at 3.7 billion euros ($5.1 billion).
Bidders could include “all the major European operators” as well as Russian operators such as Mobile TeleSystems and VimpelCom Ltd., and some Middle Eastern and Indian carriers that have the cash, Hogley said.
The Execution Noble analyst said he doesn’t expect France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom to bid for Polkomtel as both companies are already in Poland and the country’s competition authorities would probably block such a deal.
Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, who is negotiating to merge assets held by his Wind Telecom SpA with Russia’s VimpelCom to create the world’s sixth-largest mobile-phone company, said in November that he may look at Polkomtel. Today, his spokespeople couldn’t immediately be reached and didn’t return calls seeking comment.
“There will be a due diligence process where the bidders can look at the company and see if they want to adjust their offers,” TeliaSonera’s Edstroem said, declining to comment on the company’s offer price. “It’s still early days.”
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