The owners of Greece’s third largest cellco, TIM Hellas, have decided to cancel the sale of the company after failing to attract bids near their asking price. Private equity houses Apax Partners and Texas Pacific Group wanted to raise around EUR4 billion (USD5.13 billion) from the sale, but the frontrunner in the auction, the UAE’s Etisalat, dropped out of the process late last week, whilst a bid from Turkcell was reported to be too low at under EUR3.5 billion. Private equity firm Providence had also showed interest. Apax and Texas Pacific are now planning to raise EUR1.4 billion in bonds to refinance senior debt and to pay themselves a dividend, according to a source close to the matter.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Apax Partners and Texas Pacific acquired TIM Hellas from Telecom Italia in April 2005 via holding vehicle Troy GAC Telecommunications. The Italian group offloaded its Greek asset to cut debt and focus on domestic and broadband markets. Troy GAC paid EUR1.114 billion for an 80.87% stake when the deal was completed in June 2005, before acquiring all of the remaining shares for EUR263.5 million the following November. The equity firms also agreed to buy Greece’s fourth placed cellco, Q-Telecom, for EUR350 million from Info-Quest in October 2005 and completed the deal at the end of January 2006. Q-Telecom is wholly owned by Helen GAC Telecommunications, a wholly owned subsidiary of TIM Hellas, but continues to operate as an independent company offering wireless, fixed line and internet services.