DNA Owners Pull Sale After Bids Weren’t Attractive Enough

Owners of DNA Oy, Finland’s third-largest wireless carrier, pulled the sale of the operator after the proposals it received weren’t attractive enough.

DNA, owned by a group of Finnish regional phone carriers led by Finda Oy, said its ownership structure will remain unchanged after owners received “several noteworthy proposals” for alternative arrangements, according to a statement by the Helsinki-based company today. It had explored options including a private-equity buyout and initial public offering.

DNA’s market value is probably about 1.1 billion euros ($1.4 billion), Mikko Ervasti, an analyst at Evli Bank Oyj in Helsinki, said in March. A sale would have provided the shareholders with cash, while potentially strengthening DNA against larger rivals Elisa Oyj and TeliaSonera AB.

“The telecommunications industry is undergoing changes and investments will remain at a high level,” DNA Chairman Jarmo Leino said. “Operators will have to take new pricing models under serious consideration. The owners have decided to retain the current ownership structure for the time being as the market situation becomes clearer.”

Apax Partners LLP, Providence Equity Partners LLC, Bain Capital LLC and EQT Partners AB were among those bidding, according to a person familiar with the situation. A spokeswoman for Bain in London declined to comment. Apax, Providence and EQT representatives didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.

Finnish operators are among European carriers competing intensely on price as the growth of smartphone use plateaus. Companies including Orange SA and Vodafone Group Plc are cutting prices in markets such as Spain and the U.K. to woo customers.

DNA’s sales increased 5.7 percent to 769 million euros last year and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose 1.2 percent to 191 million euros, according to its website. DNA’s wireless service covers more than 5 million Finns and the company also owns a cable-television network in the Helsinki area.

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