LONDON Cable groups Get and Multimedia Polska are going on the block with a combined pricetag of more than 1.7 billion euros ($2.1 billion), people familiar with the situation said, tapping a sector that has been a rare safe harbor for dealmakers during the financial crisis.
The cable sector has seen some of the largest buyout deals of the last two years, as firms homed in on companies with steady growth and strong cash flows, and cable giant Liberty Global (LBTYA.O) consolidated its position by picking off companies already in private equity hands.
Telecoms- and technology-focused buyouts group Quadrangle and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners are preparing Norway's second largest company Get for sale later this year, or early next year, three people familiar with the situation said.
The planned sale comes as private equity firms and rival cable groups circle Multimedia Polska MULPO.UL, Poland's third largest cable group, being sold with a pricetag of about 700 million euros, sources close to the deal said.
Goldman Sachs (GS.N) is expected to handle the sale of Get, which could fetch 1 billion euros or more for its owners, the people said.
When it launches, the process will join a series of company sales in the Nordic region worth billions of dollars, including Danish retailer Matas.
The cable sector has been one of the hottest for private equity exits since the credit crisis, illustrated by the sales of Germany's Kabel Baden-Wuerttemberg to Liberty Global and Sweden's Com Hem to BC Partners, both of which attracted fierce competition from rival groups and other private equity houses.
It also saw a rare European initial public offering when Cinven CINV.UL and Warburg Pincus WP.UL listed Dutch cable firm Ziggo ZIGGO.AS earlier this year.
UPC, the European division of John Malone's cable group Liberty Global, could also take an interest in Get, even though it sold the business in 2005 to private equity, one of the people said.
Since then, Get has completed the upgrade of its network infrastructure, switched to digital broadcasting and now reaches about 1 million customers in Norway.
UPC is also circling Multimedia Polska, four people familiar with that situation said, bringing the cable group into competition with private equity houses Permira PERM.UL, EQT and Mid Europa Partners who are also considering placing bids for the company.
The sale presents another opportunity for UPC to build on its 30 percent market share after it bought Poland's No.4 cable player Aster from Mid Europa last year for 870 million Polish zlotys ($255 million), having agreed to sell off part of its network.
First round bids for Poland's No.3 cable group, controlled by co-chairmen Tomek Ulatowski and Ygal Ozechovare, due next week, the people added.
Quadrangle and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners bought Get in 2007 for 724 million euros, from now defunct private equity group Candover.
U.S. group Quadrangle itself is seeking reinvent itself after the departure of its co-founder Steve Rattner three years ago and an investigation into his financial dealings threw the firm into turmoil.
Quadrangle, Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, Get and Multimedia Polska were not immediately available for comment. ($1 = 0.8160 euros) ($1 = 3.4165 Polish zlotys) (Additional reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko and Adrian Krajewski in Warsaw; Editing by Sophie Sassard and David Cowell)