LONDON, April 23 Private equity group Warburg
Pincus has bought a stake of just under 50 percent in
Polish cable operator INEA, providing funding to expand its
network and make acquisitions.
INEA, the fourth largest cable operator in Poland, said
Warburg's investment would help it expand its high speed
broadband reach in the Western region of Wielkopolska, as well
as funding a partnership with the local government to construct
a 4,000-kilometre fibre optic backbone and distribution network.
"Overall broadband penetration in Poland is significantly
behind where it is in western European countries. It is in
long-term structural growth and over time we expect it to catch
up," Paul Best, a managing director at Warburg Pincus, told
"There is a long-term ambition to expand the network all the
way across the province and they need capital to do that."
There are more than 15 smaller cable companies operating in
the same province and over time INEA is also interested in
acquiring some of these, he said.
Best said Warburg had taken a stake of just under half of
INEA and would be represented on its board.
Warburg did not disclose how much it had paid, but said it
believed it was the largest private equity investment in Poland
Warburg has previous experience in the cable industry,
including creating Dutch cable group Ziggo through
the merger of three smaller firms. It has also invested more
than $1 billion in Central and Eastern Europe since 1997.
INEA, which was founded in 1992 and provides television,
internet and telephone services, last year had revenues of 169
million Polish zloty ($54 million).