The forthcoming auction of France Télécom’s (FT’s) 54% stake in its directories business PagesJaunes has reached a crucial point, with interested bidders expected to submit binding offers by the close of play today. The Financial Times points out that an agreed offer for the French telco’s stake could trigger a full offer for Paris-listed PagesJaunes, which has a market value of more than EUR6.7 billion (USD8.5 billion). The sale, which is being conducted by Merrill Lynch and Toulouse et Associés of France, is being pushed through quickly as FT hopes to sign a contract for the deal by 27 July when it presents its first-half results. Sources close to the auction say the process remains ‘fluid’, with a number of bidders dropping out and new ones emerging, but also warn that FT could struggle to achieve a price higher than the EUR24.16 closing price PagesJaunes achieved on Friday’s trading.
Companies expected to submit firm bids for the directories business include Vivendi, Texas Pacific Group, US rival Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, which has teamed up with Axa Private Equity to express its interest, Goldman Sachs, French investment group Eurazeo, BC Partners and PAI.