By Carlos Ruano and Kate Holton
MADRID/LONDON, March 14 Shareholders of
telecommunications company Ono are close to agreeing a deal with
Britain's Vodafone which has offered to buy the Spanish
group for about 7.2 billion euros ($10 billion) including debt,
two sources familiar with the matter said.
Shareholders in private equity-backed Ono, which sells fixed
and mobile phone, TV and internet services, gave the green light
to a planned initial public offering (IPO) of the company at a
meeting on Thursday, but they were still holding out for a deal
with Vodafone, one of the sources said.
"The final details of the bid are being negotiated. For now
Ono has delayed the presentations linked to the IPO to give
breathing room for the negotiations, and a preliminary agreement
could even be reached this Friday," the source said.
For Vodafone, a purchase of Ono would be its third European
fixed-broadband acquisition in two years as the company seeks to
improve its networks and shore up its European businesses after
the $130 billion sale of its U.S. arm.
Vodafone declined to comment, while Ono did not immediately
respond to requests for comment.
Ono on Friday reported 2013 earnings before interest, taxes,
depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of 686 million euros,
down 8.8 percent from a year earlier.
A 7.2 billion-euro offer would imply an EBITDA multiple of
10.5 times, broadly in line with recent deals in the European
cable and telecoms sector.
Ono rebuffed an earlier bid from Vodafone in February, but
sources told Reuters last week that the British group had raised
its offer and reached a preliminary deal to buy the group.
Investment funds Providence Equity Partners, Thomas H. Lee
Partners, CCMP Capital Advisors and Quadrangle Capital own 54
percent of Ono, according to the company's website.