Carlyle Group to sell out of Taiwan for $1.14Bn

Private equity firm Carlyle Group is likely to get approval to sell its Taiwan cable TV unit, Kbro, next week for T$36 billion ($1.14 billion). The National Communications Commission claims that it sees “strong chance” of approval for the sale. The Tsai family, the controlling shareholder in Taiwan Mobile, will buy the cable unit.

(Reuters) – Taiwan’s broadcast regulator is set to approve Carlyle Group’s T$36 billion ($1.14 billion) sale of its Taiwan cable TV unit next week, a government source with direct knowledge of the situation said on Wednesday.

The National Communications Commission (NCC) will announce later on Wednesday that it will give the buyer one week to provide some additional paperwork, but sees no major issues over approval of the sale, the source said.

“The chances for the deal to receive approval are very good,” the source told Reuters on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

“The most troublesome parts of the deal are gone,” the source said, referring to a Taiwan law that had held up the original deal and concerns over competition issues given that the buyer already has a cable TV operation.

The NCC will brief media on the result at 0600 GMT on Wednesday.

Under the original deal, agreed in September 2009, phone company Taiwan Mobile had agreed to buy the Carlyle unit, Kbro, but the deal lapsed in the face of a Taiwan law that bans state ownership of media entities.

The Taipei city government holds an indirect stake in Taiwan Mobile.

In a restructuring of the deal in July to get round the hurdle, Taiwan Mobile’s controlling shareholder, the Tsai family, agreed to buy Kbro by itself rather than through Taiwan Mobile.

The deal would mark Carlyle’s latest exit from Taiwan, and bodes well for the on-going bidding process for private equity investor MBK Partner’s sale of China Network Systems (CNS), Taiwan’s No.2 cable TV operator.

The Tsai family will assume Kbro’s debt of more than T$20 billion.
(By Faith Hung. Editing by Jonathan Standing)