German cable operator Tele Columbus to pick IPO banks - sources

FRANKFURT Thu May 8, 2014 8:16am EDT

FRANKFURT May 7 (Reuters) - German cable operator Tele Columbus has asked banks to pitch for a role in a stock market listing it is considering as it hopes to benefit from buoyant equity markets, according to people familiar with the plan.

The group, which is owned by several hedge funds and credit funds following a financial restructuring, is targeting an initial public offering (IPO) in Frankfurt in the second half of the year, the three sources said, adding it may pick organisers as soon as this month.

Tele Columbus declined to comment on any plans regarding a potential IPO.

Germany's third-largest cable company after Kabel Deutschland and Unitymedia Kabel BW has 1.7 million subscribers and last year posted 90 million euros ($125 million) in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) on sales of 224 million euros.

Listed peers like Kabel Deutschland, Ziggo and Numericable trade at an average of 10.7 times their expected annual EBITDA.

If Tele Columbus is able to reap a comparable valuation it would be valued at about 1 billion euros, although investors are likely to ask for a discount in a potential share sale.

Last year, Kabel Deutschland walked away from buying Tele Columbus for about 618 million euros after Germany's competition watchdog blocked the deal.

Tele Columbus later attracted interest from private equity groups CVC and Cinven, as well as from peer Primacom, but no deal ever materialised.

Tele Columbus still has 550 million euros in net debt. In February, it was granted an extension of credit lines until the end of 2017.

The company was taken over by its lenders as part of a financial restructuring in 2009.

($1 = 0.7183 Euros) (Reporting by Arno Schuetze and Alexander Hübner; Editing by Pravin Char)