Telenet mulling bid for BASE with private equity partner?

24 May 2012

Following on from reports last month that Dutch incumbent KPN Telecom was considering the sale of its Belgian mobile unit BASE, local cableco Telenet has emerged as a potential bidder, according to Reuters. It is understood that Mechelen-based Telenet is undertaking talks with private equity firms regarding a possible joint bid for BASE, with reports citing people familiar with the matter. An unnamed source at one of the interested private equity firms was meanwhile quoted as saying: ‘Every private equity player would try to team up with Telenet as there is no trade rival that could offer the same synergies here.’

Telenet, which is controlled by US-based Liberty Global, is thought to be examining options for bidding for the cellco which would limit its owner’s financial contribution, and it is claimed that it is consulting advisory firms Lazard and Goldman Sachs with regards to the matter. Blackstone, Cinven, Providence, Bain and KKR have been named as among the possible private equity partners.

With any deal to sell BASE likely to generate up to EUR1.8 billion (USD2.3 billion) for KPN, the acquisition would allow Telenet, which currently holds a 3G licence via Telenet Tecteo Bidco (TTB) – a joint venture with the Tecteo Group, which owns Wallonia-based cableco VOO – to offer services over its own network. Indeed, the lack of a 3G network rollout by the two cable operators has recently caught the eye of the regulator, and as reported by CommsUpdate earlier this month, the chairman of the Belgian Institute for Post and Telecommunications (BIPT) cautioned TTB to ensure it has inaugurated its own infrastructure by mid-January 2013, as stipulated by its 3G concession.

Belgium, BASE Company, KPN, Telenet (incl. BASE)