TIM buys Info-Quest’s Q

IT and telecoms group Info-Quest has accepted a 325-million-euro ($390 million) binding bid by TPG/Apax for its telecoms unit Q-Telecom, sending its stock up as much as 20 percent. Texas Pacific Group (TPG) and Apax Partners are private equity firms which control mobile operator TIM Hellas. Info-Quest will be focusing on its information technology side – it makes and distributes products such as computers, printers and software. «The deal took place at a high multiple, meaning TIM Hellas shareholders see positive prospects from future synergies,» said one analyst. Q-Telecom competes against Greece’s largest telecoms operator OTE and other smaller carriers in fixed-line services. In mobile telephony, it will be teaming up with TIM Hellas against CosmOTE and Vodafone Greece. Info-Quest had a market capitalization of around 200 million euros at Friday’s close. TIM Hellas’s bonds, sold in September, were slightly higher on the deal, a trader in London said. «It was anticipated. They’ve paid slightly more than expected, but it’s still in the comfort zone and strategically it makes a lot of sense,» the trader said. TIM Hellas’s 8.5 percent euro bond due in 2013 was bid at 99 percent of face value, up 0.125 percentage points. In August, TIM Hellas posted a 31 percent drop in first-half net profit to 19.6 million euros, but said a recently implemented turnaround plan was expected to significantly improve profitability from 2006. Q-Telecom made a pretax profit of 1.5 million euros in the first quarter of this year. Info-Quest said TPG/Apax’s cash offer includes an agreement to assume Q-Telecom’s outstanding 25-million-euro bond issue. The sale still needs the approval of the regulatory authorities. Info-Quest had previously held exclusive talks with UK investment house BC Partners. TPG/Apax bought an 81 percent stake in TIM Hellas from Telecom Italia’s mobile arm TIM for 1.1 billion euros in June.