KKR bidding for Australia Leighton's fibre-optic unit -source

HONG KONG Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:55pm EST

HONG KONG Dec 14 (Reuters) - KKR & Co LP has jumped into the auction for the fibre-optics business being sold by Australian contractor Leighton Holdings, a source familiar with the process told Reuters, eyeing a business that analysts say could fetch as much as A$870 million ($918 million).

KKR's entry into the NextGen process pits it against fellow private equity giant Providence Equity Partners and Australian telecommunications group TPG Telecom Ltd.

Leighton, controlled by Spain's ACS, is selling the intercity fibre-optic business, known as NextGen, and two smaller data businesses Metronode and Infoplex to pay down debt.

KKR, Providence and Leighton declined to comment. TPG Telecom was not available for an immediate comment.

The source declined to be identified as the sale process was confidential. ($1 = 0.9481 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Stephen Aldred; Additional reporting by Miranada Maxwell; Editing by Michael Flaherty and Edmund Klamann)