TDC poised to accept $11.5bn bid

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TDC, the Danish telecoms group, was on Monday night on the verge of agreeing an $11.5bn takeover from a group of five large buy-out groups in what would represent one of the world’s largest leveraged buy-outs.

Two people close to the situation last night said an announcement was imminent, although both warned there was a possibility the deal could yet collapse or be delayed.

However, the buy-out consortium – made up of UK-based firms Apax and Permira, working with Blackstone, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Providence of the US – was last night confident of a successful outcome.

TDC declined to comment.

Earlier this month, the consortium made a binding offer for TDC at a price thought to be less than DKr380 a share, valuing the group’s equity at less than DKr75bn ($11.9bn). TDC shares closed last night DKr4.5 lower at DKr354.5.

TDC’s enterprise value rises to some $15bn when including third-quarter net debt of DKr21.1bn, which would make it Europe’s largest leveraged buy-out. Earlier this year, Wind, the Italian telecoms groups, was acquired in an LBO that valued the group at €12.1bn, including debt.

Earlier this month, TDC reported robust third-quarter figures that resulted in 2005 net revenue expectations upgraded by DKr500m to DKr46.1bn. TDC also raised its ebitda forecast by DKr200m to DKr12.8bn.

A rival buy-out team – comprising BC Partners and Cinven of the UK and Apollo and Silver Lake of the US – has been fighting against the clock to submit its own binding offer for TDC. It was unclear last night whether this grouping would walk away or attempt to trump the Apax team.

TDC had already made its views known to the BC team on when it required a binding offer, which one banker described as a “short fuse”.

Potential bid interest in TDC from Swisscom evaporated last Friday after the Swiss government, a key shareholder in the state telecoms group, shocked the market by saying it would block any foreign takeovers.

Swisscom was reported to have held preliminary talks with the BC Partners team about a possible joint offer.

The Apax team is thought to have secured financial backing from Barclays Capital, CSFB, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan and Royal Bank of Scotland.

Its offer will be made via a new Copenhagen-registered holding company, Nordic Telephone Company, whose board comprises representatives from each of the buy-out groups.

TDC is a leading provider of communications services in Denmark and the second-largest communications provider in Switzerland.

It also holds significant interests in several communications companies across northern and continental Europe.

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