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Spain’s Val Said to Hire Jefferies to Help Sell Ono Stake

U.S. Billionaire John Malone
Ono could be attractive for Vodafone Group Plc, Europe’s largest mobile-phone company, and Liberty Global Plc, controlled by U.S. billionaire John Malone, who said in July he would look to southern Europe for growth opportunities. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Val Telecomunicaciones SL, a Spanish investment holding company, is seeking a buyer for its stake in cable provider Grupo Corporativo Ono SA, according to five people familiar with the matter.

Val Telecomunicaciones hired Jefferies Group LLC to find an acquirer for its 5.4 percent holding in Madrid-based Ono, the people said, asking not to be identified because the negotiations are private. The stake could be sold for about 120 million euros ($162 million), which would value closely held Ono at about 2.2 billion euros, two of the people said.

European cable operators Kabel Deutschland Holding AG and Virgin Media Inc. were acquired this year, fueling speculation that Ono may be the next target as telecommunications companies add broadband assets. Ono could be attractive for Vodafone Group Plc, Europe’s largest mobile-phone company, and Liberty Global Plc, controlled by U.S. billionaire John Malone, who said in July he would look to southern Europe for growth opportunities.

“This minority shareholder must feel under some immediate pressure to monetize its investment now because it will probably fall short of what it could get after a potential trade sale to a competitor down the road,” said Henri Alexaline, a fixed-income investor who helps manage $1 billion at FM Capital in London.

Santander, Providence

Officials of Val Telecomunicaciones, which includes multiple investors, didn’t return calls seeking comment. A Jefferies representative declined to comment.

The stake sale is significant as it will put a value on Ono amid the recent wave of cable acquisitions. Yet a minority sale may be difficult to execute as the other Ono shareholders have the right to buy the stake, which could delay the process or deter potential buyers, two of the people said.

Providence Equity Partners Inc., Thomas H. Lee Partners LP and Spain’s biggest bank Banco Santander SA are among Ono’s top investors, according to the cable company’s annual report.

Ono, which has its own high-capacity fiber-optic network in Spain, reported a first-half loss of 19 million euros as revenue climbed 3.5 percent to 800 million euros. The company had net debt of 3.4 billion euros at the end of June.

The operator is continuing with a plan to sell shares in an initial public offering when markets recover, Chief Executive Officer Rosalia Portela said this month in a conference in Santander, Spain. Portela declined to comment on whether the company had been approached by potential buyers.

To contact the reporters on this story: Manuel Baigorri in Madrid at mbaigorri@bloomberg.net; Matthew Campbell in London at mcampbell39@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net

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