October 25, 2018 / 4:29 PM / a year ago

Freenet open to offers for its $1 bln stake in Sunrise - CEO

FRANKFURT, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Freenet, the largest shareholder in Switzerland’s Sunrise Communications , is open to offers to sell its stake outright, the independent German telecoms company’s CEO Christoph Vilanek said on Thursday.

Freenet does not, however, favour a merger between Sunrise and Liberty Global’s local business UPC that has been at the centre of recent speculation. It has also received no expression of interest from Liberty, Vilanek said.

“If someone offers us 100 francs a share (for the Sunrise stake) we would think about it,” Vilanek told reporters at a briefing in Frankfurt.

Freenet owns 24.6 percent of Sunrise, whose shares closed at 88.8 Swiss francs on Thursday, valuing the stake at $1 billion.

Commenting further, Vilanek said Freenet would be willing to sell its stake in one go or in tranches, but was under no financial pressure to do so.

He expressed concern, meanwhile, that a merger of Sunrise with UPC, if it did happen, could saddle a combined business with too much debt for it to grow profitably.

He also noted that Liberty had been exiting its telecoms assets in other European countries, selling UPC Austria to Deutsche Telekom and, separately, agreeing a deal for Vodafone to buy its operations in Germany and Eastern Europe.

Reporting by Douglas Busvine. Editing by Jane Merriman

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