MADRID Dec 10 Spain's main cable operator Ono
is considering an initial public offering for some of its shares
in the first half of 2014, two sources with knowledge of the
matter said, a move which could speed up consolidation in the
pressured Spanish telecom sector.
While the sources noted that no final decision had yet been
made on whether to partially list the company, they said Ono's
management was keen to take advantage of renewed interest in
Spanish assets from foreign investors and of a slight uptick in
the country's economic performance to move ahead with the plan.
If confirmed, it would be the second initial public offering
(IPO) of a European cable company in just a few months, after
France's Numericable last month raised 652.2 million euros
($894.8 million) to help repay debt and upgrade its network.
"They've seen the strong demand for Numericable shares in
France and they want to push on with the listing," said one of
the sources on condition of anonymity.
Business daily Expansion said on Tuesday the plan could take
the form of a share offering coupled with a capital increase and
that both moves would likely be discussed at Ono's next board
meeting, due in the next few weeks.
Ono, which has repeatedly said in the past that going public
was a possibility, was not immediately available to comment.
The cable operator posted a 15-million-euro loss in the nine
months to September and its TV business is losing clients as
cash-strapped Spaniards cut leisure spending, but its optic
fibre network could be an asset for telecom operators eager to
sell high-margin data services.
The sources said Ono would likely be a takeover target for
bigger competitors Vodafone and Orange, which
are trying to capture a larger share of the Spanish market to
make headway against former monopoly Telefonica.
"A listing would put a price on the asset and make it a
palatable target for the likes of Vodafone or Orange, whose
margins have been seriously pressured by the ongoing war on
prices," said the source.
Most Spanish telecom operators have been offering cheaper
services over the past few months in a bid to retain clients.