France Telecom (FT) has begun the process of selling off its Swiss operation, Orange Switzerland. Details were sent out to more than a dozen interested parties, mainly private equity firms such as Providence Equity Partners and Apax Partners, which was recently beaten in a bid to acquire Polkomtel. Also interested in purchasing the telco is the majority owner of Orascom Telecom, Egypt’s Naguib Sawiris; Orascom (which is in the process of being merged with Russia’s Vimpelcom) has subsidiaries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia and, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, generated revenues of USD673.4 million in 2010.
The involvement of FT’s local rival, Sunrise, in the bidding process is currently unclear. According to the UK’s Financial Times, CVC Capital Partners, the owner of Sunrise, will be allowed to take part despite fears of regulatory intervention − in 2010 FT attempted a merger with Sunrise, then owned by Denmark’s TDC, but was thwarted by Switzerland’s anti-trust regulator. NASDAQ, however cites sources close to the sale, claiming that CVC has not been sent details and France Telecom does not want it to participate, lest they deter other potential investors. FT is also said to be wary of sharing sensitive company details with its local rival. FT was unavailable for comment.