High five for Kabel BW; may still opt for IPO

18 Feb 2011

Swedish private equity group EQT has received at least five bids for its German cable operator Kabel BW, but may still opt for an initial public offering (IPO) or choose to keep the business, Reuters reports, citing two people close to the sale process. According to the sources, the bidders include US cable company Liberty Global, which already operates in the local cable market through the acquisition of Unitymedia in January 2010, and private equity firms CVC Capital Partners, Cinven, Providence and Hellman & Friedman. ‘EQT will decide within the next couple of weeks whether to opt for a trade sale or an IPO,’ one of the people said, adding that a floatation could take place as early as April. One source said that EQT is hoping to sell Kabel BW for at least EUR3 billion (USD4.07 billion). Financial investors are likely to be more successful buyers than domestic rivals because consolidation in the German cable market could be thwarted by the country’s anti-trust authority, the Federal Cartel Office. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database states that EQT has been the sole shareholder in Heidelberg-based Kabel BW since it bought the cableco from US investment group Blackstone in April 2006 for around EUR1.3 billion. The private equity firm hired JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Bank in November 2010 to advise on an IPO or sale of the cableco, which at 30 September 2010 had a subscriber base of around 2.3 million, including around 624,000 broadband and telephony customers.

Germany, Kabel BW, Liberty Global (incl. LGI)