RLPC-Astorg acquires majority stake in TV firm M7

LONDON, July 28 (Reuters) - Private equity firm Astorg Partners has acquired a majority stake in Luxembourg-based satellite TV business M7, the companies announced on Monday.

In 2007, Providence Equity Partners bought a 50 percent stake in Canal Digitaal in the Netherlands from Airbridge, backed with 250 million euros of debt, according to Thomson Reuters LPC data.

They then expanded the company to include TV Vlaanderen in Flanders, TeleSAT in Belgium, AustriaSat in Austria and CS Link and Skylink for the Czech and Slovak market. The group was branded M7 in 2009.

Following the sale to Astorg, Providence and Airbridge will maintain a significant minority stake in M7.

There is unlikely to be any new debt raised to back Astorg’s acquisition as M7’s existing debt has portability, a mechanism that allows debt to remain in place despite a change of control, banking sources said on Monday.

Astorg declined to comment on the financing.

The sale of a majority stake comes after Providence and Airbridge took around 110 million euros as a dividend payment from the company in June. It was the second dividend to be taken from M7 in the space of a year. The first dividend to be taken totalled around 312 million euros last summer as part of a wider 335 million euro refinancing. (Editing by Christopher Mangham)