Luis Alberto Salazar-Simpson, the chairman of Spain’s third largest telecoms operator Auna, says his company would most likely decline a possible EUR11 billion (USD14.5 billion) takeover bid currently being studied by a group of five buy-out firms, if the offer was inclusive of Auna’s EUR4.5 billion debt. A consortium comprising US-based groups Blackstone, Carlyle and Providence, and Apax Partners and CVC Capital of the UK, is reported to be looking to put forward an offer – which would be one of the largest private equity acquisitions ever seen. The two sides met in Madrid last week, but with no formal offer on the table, some Auna shareholders have reportedly broken ranks with their partners and are suggesting the company is worth more than EUR14 billion.
Auna’s single largest shareholder the electricity company Endesa, which owns 32.6% of the company, is believed to be looking to use the proceeds of the sale to cut its own debt. However, the group’s second largest shareholder Banco Santander (27%) and the Union Fenosa, which controls a further 18.6% and is itself majority owned by Santander, could stand in its way. Prior to the approach from the venture capitalists, Auna was mulling a possible public listing in 2005.