* Bain Capital to buy Atento in 1 bln euro deal
* Enterprise value includes 110 mln euro deferred payment
* Telefonica to provide 110 mln euros in vendor financing
* Telefonica shares flat vs lower Spanish index
By Tracy Rucinski
MADRID, Oct 12 Spain's Telefonica is
selling its Atento call centre business to U.S. private equity
firm Bain Capital for about 1 billion euro ($1.3 billion),
including debt, as it battles to reduce its borrowings.
The telecoms group is trying to reduce a 57 billion euro
($74 billion) debt pile and preserve a coveted investment grade
credit rating, at a time when its crisis-hit home country faces
pressure to seek an international bailout.
It has been looking for a buyer for Atento, which has over
152,000 staff, since last year when it shelved a stock market
listing of the unit after failing to fetch enough interest.
Bain, co-founded by U.S. Republican presidential candidate
Mitt Romney, agreed a deal on Friday - its first in Spain - for
an enterprise value of just over 1 billion euros, which includes
Atento's net debt of around 175 million euros.
"The enterprise value is close to Telefonica's initial
ambition for Atento and is 30 percent better than the prices
that had been rumoured in the press recently," Juan Rodriguez,
an analyst at Banco Sabadell, said.
However, the transaction includes 110 million euros in
financing from Telefonica, meaning the telecoms group will be
raising far less than 1 billion euros from the sale.
Other loans from Spanish, Mexican and Brazilian banks backed
Bain's acquisition, a source close to the situation said.
The headline value also incorporates a 110-million-euro
deferred payment by Bain, Telefonica said.
The deal includes a nine-year agreement for the call centre
to continue providing services to Telefonica. More than 50
percent of Atento's business is with Telefonica, and another 9
percent comes from Spain's second largest bank BBVA.
Bain, which has owned Japan's biggest call centre operator
Bellsystems24 since 2009 and recently invested in Genpact, the
world's largest business processing outsourcer, is interested in
Atento's strong presence in Latin America, and will look to
expand its client base, the source said.
The sale will help Telefonica on its way to raising the 7
billion to 8 billion euros a year through to 2015 that it needs
to cope with debt repayments.
The company is also preparing to spin off its German O2 arm
and has said it is considering listings in Latin America.
Shares in Telefonica were flat at 10.185 euros by 1445 GMT,
outperforming Spain's blue chip index.
The telecoms group had hoped to raise up to 765 million
euros in a flotation of Atento last year, which would have given
it an equity valuation of between 1.16 billion euros and 1.5
billion euros at the original price range it was aiming for.
It slashed the price at the last minute, before scrapping
the sale altogether as markets wobbled.
Though Spanish companies have still struggled to garner
interest from investors worried about the country's economic
outlook, those with a strong export story or roots in other
regions, especially emerging markets, have fared better.
Spanish bank Santander managed to raise over $4
billion from listing its Mexico operation in September.
Atento, which runs helpdesks, cold calling, back offices and
other service desks, has about half of its staff in Brazil.
According to Telefonica, it is the leading customer relationship
management company in Latin America and number two in the world.
It started life in 1999 when Telefonica hived off its call
centre staff in Spain, Peru and Chile into a separate business,
allowing it to answer and make calls for other companies as an
Atento had 1.8 billion euros in 2011 revenue.