COPENHAGEN Denmark's TDC (TDC.CO) agreed to sell its Swiss unit Sunrise for 3.3 billion Swiss francs ($3.3 billion) in a deal seen by analysts as readying TDC for a stock offering and boosting its shares 6 percent.
TDC said on Friday it agreed to sell Sunrise to funds advised by private equity firm CVC Capital Partners CVC.UL, confirming what sources told Reuters on Thursday.
The deal followed an attempt by the Danish telecom operator to sell Sunrise to France Telecom's FTE.PA Swiss unit Orange that was blocked by Swiss regulators in April on grounds it would create a two-player market.
For TDC, which has a total market value of $7.3 billion based on Thursday's closing price, the sale is part of a strategic streamlining that has been widely seen as preparation by its controlling private equity owners for a stock offering.
"I see a reintroduction on the stock market of all shares as the most likely way for the current owners to exit, and they have now cleared the last hurdle for that as they now have a focus on the Nordic region only," said Sydbank analyst Morten Imsgaard.
"A reintroduction could happen this year, depending on the markets and overall economic sentiment," he said.
TDC's main owners, with nearly 90 percent of the stock are private equity firms Apax Partners, Blackstone Group (BX.N), Kohlberg Kravis Roberts KKR.UL, Permira Advisers PERM.UL and Providence Equity Partners.
"There's nothing new about our owners' considerations. They are not ready to comment on the strategic review. This (the sale of Sunrise) marks the end of our strategy the last 3-4 years to focus on the Nordics," TDC Chief Executive Henrik Poulsen told Reuters.
The transaction is subject to Swiss regulatory approval and antitrust clearance and is expected to close in the fourth quarter.
"The transaction is estimated to result in a gain of approximately 650 million Danish crowns ($114 million) after tax, which will be recognized as special items related to discontinued operations, when the transaction has been closed," TDC said in a statement.
"With the new owner, Sunrise will be able to continue its current challenger strategy whilst maintaining its high level of investment in infrastructure and distribution," CVC said in a separate statement.
Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) and BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA) acted as M&A advisors to CVC Capital Partners, while Morgan Stanley (MS.N) and UBS UBSN.VX acted as M&A advisors to TDC, it said.
Imsgaard said the price tag was very good.
TDC illiquid stock was up 4.8 percent at 44 Danish crowns at 1017 GMT.
The sale affects 2010 guidance, TDC said.
After the Sunrise divestment, TDC expects 2010 revenue to be level with 2009 instead of its earlier guidance for full-year revenue to grow 1 to 3 percent, the company said.
TDC now expects 2010 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization to grow to about 2 percent, instead of an earlier forecast for EBITDA growth of 3 to 4 percent, TDC said.
The sale is on a cash and debt-free basis, it said.
Sunrise's activities will be booked as discontinued operations in TDC's interim financial statements for January-September, and comparative figures in the income statements and cash flow statements will be restated, TDC said.
(Reporting by John Acher and Peter Levring; Editing by Hans Peters, Mike Nesbit)
($1=1.001 Swiss Franc)
($1=5.689 Danish Crown)