EXCLUSIVE Brookfield taps banks to sell out of French towers firm TDF -sources
LONDON, May 5 (Reuters) - Canada's Brookfield Asset Management (BAMa.TO) is working with banks to sell its 45% stake in French towers firm TDF Group as it seeks to capitalize on growing demand for key infrastructure assets across Europe, sources told Reuters.
Brookfield has drafted in Citigroup (C.N) and Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) to work on the sale which could value TDF at more than 5 billion euros ($5.30 billion), three sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
TDF - a former unit of France's leading telecoms operator Orange (ORAN.PA) - provides strategic broadcasting and telecoms infrastructure across France with its radio antennas sitting on top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Brookfield's move to cash out from TDF comes at a time of frantic investments in European towers' companies, with major operators including Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE) and Vodafone (VOD.L) currently in talks with investment funds to sell all or part of their crown infrastructure jewels. read more
TDF, Brookfield, Citi and Credit Suisse declined to comment.
Brookfield is looking to move fast after previous discussions to find a new owner for its TDF stake fell through, the sources said.
The Canadian investment firm led an investment consortium that took control of TDF in 2015 and currently ranks as the company's single largest investor with a 45% stake.
Brookfield is looking to kick off an auction process before the summer, targeting deep-pocketed infrastructure investors that seek to deploy capital in core European markets, the sources said.
Three other investment firms - PSP Investments, APG Asset Management NV and Arcus Infrastructure Partners - control a combined 45% stake while Credit Agricole Assurances owns the remaining 10%.
PSP has hired Lazard (LAZ.N) to decide whether to follow in Brookfield's footsteps and sell out, one of the sources said.
PSP and Lazard declined to comment.
APG has instead decided it would continue investing in TDF as it sees scope to reap more profit from the company, which last year made core earnings of 464 million euros, another source said.
APG declined to comment.
In March, TDF installed a 6 metre (20 ft) high radio antenna atop the Eiffel Tower to provide access to DAB+ digital radio broadcasting - an upgraded version of DAB digital radio for better quality transmission – resulting in the Eiffel Tower growing to a height of 330 metres.
Yet, TDF's broadcasting business is seen as less attractive by investors who value its telecoms towers network at much higher multiples since viewers increasingly rely on Internet TV to stream video content.
($1 = 0.9430 euros)
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