BUSINESS

BC Partners is set to land Forthnet

ILIAS BELLOS

TAGS: Business

Forthnet’s creditors have entered into exclusive negotiations with BC Partners, whose subsidiary, United Group, has offered to acquire the Greek telecommunication company. In addition to obtaining Forthnet’s shares from its creditors, this will also entail taking on its obligations and financing the company until the completion of the agreement. It has asked for nothing from the banks.

With such a binding offer in place, it was natural that United Group should be chosen for exclusive negotiations that it appears will end up in the transfer of the entire sum of loans worth 310 million euros, as well as the shares that banks control, which are close to one-third of the share capital. Kathimerini has confirmed that the price offered for the shares is more than 40 million euros.

Nevertheless the final cost of the move by BC Partners, which is headed by Nikos Stathopoulos, is expected to be significantly higher, as according to capital market rules it will have to make an obligatory public offer for the acquisition of the rest of the company’s share capital in a squeeze-out move. Given that the capitalization of Forthnet is around 52 million euros, and with a hypothetical premium of 20 percent, BC Partners may pay another 50 million for the rest of the shares, according to capital market sources. “Combined with the intermediary financing, one can speak of a 100-million-euro deal, if it is signed with the banks,” the same sources note.

The other two binding offers banks received by April 17 came from Duet Private Equity and the Kyriakou Group. They both had a more complex architecture, especially that by the Greek group, according to bank sources.

United Group, which joined the race for Forthnet in mid-March, was bought out last year by an entity belonging to BC Partners, Europe’s biggest private investment fund, in a transaction valued at 2.568 billion euros. United’s portfolio recently saw the addition of Vivacom, Bulgaria’s biggest telecom, which in turn has acquired Telekom Albania from Greece’s market leader OTE. Its assets also include Tele2 of Croatia.

BC Partners also attempted to buy Wind Hellas in a process that the Greek company abandoned late last year.

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