Buy-out consortium bids for TDC

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TDC has received a firm offer from a buy-out consortium that values Denmark’s leading telecommunications group at close to $11.5bn.

The group’s enterprise value rises to nearly $15bn, including estimated debt of $3.5bn, which would make TDC one of the world’s largest leveraged buy-outs. Europe’s largest LBO was this year’s €12bn ($14bn) takeover of Wind, the Italian telecoms group.

The consortium of Apax, Blackstone, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Permira and Providence confirmed a formal bid for TDC had been lodged, but would not disclose the price. It is understood to be below the DKr380 a share indicated in some reports but above an earlier approach of DKr355. The shares closed last night at DKr370.50 after heavy trading.

TDC may move quickly to recommend an offer in the coming days. The Apax team, which has an underwritten debt package in place, has pursued TDC aggressively and has attempted to position itself as the clear front-runner.

However, a rival grouping of buy-out groups – comprising Apollo, BC Partners, Cinven and Silver Lake – has also been working hard on its own bid.

Another potential bidder is Swisscom, the Swiss carrier which has gained access to the TDC data room, although it is also working on a bid for Eircom of Ireland.

Jens Alder, chief executive of Swisscom, said the company was targeting European telecoms incumbents and did not rule out the possibility of two consecutive deals.

“I would love to do one that makes sense but I can’t rule out the possibility that there might be another one round the corner,” he said at a conference in Barcelona on Thursday.

The Apax team’s bid was made via a new Copenhagen-registered holding company, Nordic Telephone Company, whose board comprises representatives from each of the buy-out groups.

Hans Munk Nielsen, chief financial officer at TDC, declined to comment on the bid. However, he said that in general the company had no preference between a private equity and a trade buyer, adding he thought the Danish government held a similar view about the national telecoms operator.

“It would be very surprising if the government were to interfere or meddle with the situation,” he said.

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

It also holds significant interests in a range of communications companies across northern and continental Europe.

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