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UPDATE 3-CVC near $3.3bln buy of Swiss telco Sunrise-sources
September 16, 2010 / 5:59 PM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 3-CVC near $3.3bln buy of Swiss telco Sunrise-sources

* Sale would be one of year’s largest buyouts

* Could aid KKR, other owners in relisting of seller TDC

* Previous sale to France Tel was blocked by regulators (Adds Swisscom closing share price)

By Quentin Webb and Victoria Howley

LONDON, Sept 16 (Reuters) - TDC A/S (TDC.CO), the private equity-backed Danish telephone company, is close to a deal to sell Swiss unit Sunrise to buyout firm CVC Capital Partners [CVC.UL], six people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The deal will place an enterprise value on Sunrise of about 3.3 billion Swiss francs ($3.3 billion), four of the people said, making it one of the year’s largest leveraged buyouts. A deal is likely to be announced on Friday, some of the people added.

A sale would give CVC, a British private equity firm, control of Switzerland’s second-biggest telecommunications company and clear the way for TDC’s owners to accelerate long-held plans to refloat the company.

TDC dropped a plan to sell Sunrise to France Telecom’s FTE.PA Orange earlier this year, after competition regulators in Switzerland blocked the merger of the two units. That set back plans by TDC’s owners to relist more of the company, which they took control of in 2006.

TDC’s main owners, with nearly 88 percent of the stock, are a group of five private equity firms: Apax Partners, Blackstone Group (BX.N), Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR.N), Permira Advisers [PERM.UL] and Providence Equity Partners.

The deal is about 70 percent funded by debt, and 30 percent by equity, one of the people said -- making it more leveraged than many buyouts since the credit crisis.

The debt, put together by BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and UBS, is split between longer-term loans and bridge loans that will be refinanced with high-yield bonds, two of the people added.

CVC, TDC and the buyout consortium declined to comment about the deal, which was first reported by Bloomberg.

“We have no information on a takeover,” said a Sunrise spokeswoman. “We do not comment on rumours.”

STRING OF DEALS

With 2.85 million customers, the company trails Swisscom AG SCMN.VX, which boasts 5.7 million mobile customers and 1.8 million broadband connections, but is far ahead of former suitor Orange Switzerland, which has 1.56 million customers.

Swisscom shares edged 0.2 percent lower to close at 393.60 Swiss francs.

In June it named a new chief executive, Oliver Steil, who was formerly CEO of German mobile phone company debitel.

Sunrise made first-quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of 131 million Swiss francs, up 13.9 percent from the same period a year earlier, on revenue of 495 million Swiss francs.

If the deal goes through, it would be this year’s biggest takeover of a European telephone company, Thomson Reuters data shows. Global mergers and acquisitions in telecoms total more than $122 billion this year, but the biggest deals have targeted South America, the United States, Africa and Australia.

This is the third big deal for CVC in as many months, after it struck two deals to take significant minority stakes in other companies.

In June it took a 630 million pound ($983 million) stake in Blackstone’s theme-park group Merlin Entertainments, and in August it acquired a 1.7 billion euro ($2.2 billion) stake in Spanish toll-road operator Abertis (ABE.MC) from building company ACS (ACS.MC). (Reporting by Quentin Webb, Victoria Howley and Tessa Walsh in London, with Peter Levring in Copenhagen; Editing by David Holmes and Steve Orlofsky) ($1=1.001 Swiss franc)

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