Buyout firms eyeing up Greek telecom Wind Hellas

Argo Capital Partners and Saban Capital are among six bidders to have made offers for Greek telecom Wind Hellas, according to reports. Wind Hellas has a debt payment due on Friday which it is expected to miss. Other bidders include Norwegian telecom group Telenor, while the current owner, Naguid Swiris, is attempting to hold on to the company.

(Reuters) – A preferred bidder for struggling Greek telecom Wind Hellas [WINVTH.UL] will be selected shortly, its parent company said on Thursday, as crunch talks at the firm continue ahead of a looming debt payment.

News of Wind’s fate could come as soon as Friday, with incumbent owner Naguib Sawiris, the Egyptian tycoon also struggling to sell other assets to Russia’s Vimpelcom , also vying to retain control of his Greek company.

A looming bond coupon payment on Friday, which Wind Hellas is expected to miss, heaped further pressure on last-minute negotiations about the fate of the company.

Wind, which is it in its second debt restructuring within a year, has attracted a number of revised offers, owner Weather Investment III said on Thursday.

Weather said it expected to “reach a successful conclusion in the near term,” adding that discussions were continuing.

By mid-September, Wind had attracted six bids, including an offer from Norwegian telecom group Telenor with a cash component to it, according to a second source.

Wind’s senior secured bondholders, who hold 1.2 billion euros of debt, also tabled a bid.

Sawiris bought back Wind Hellas in a first restructuring last year, which shaved off a layer of debt. He confirmed to Reuters in September that he was also involved in the current round of bidding.

Argo Capital Partners Fund, which owns local Greek competitor On Telecoms, and peer Info-Quest, also made offers, as did U.S. private equity firm Saban Capital. (By Sarah White and Victoria Howley. Editing by Will Waterman)