Innova Capital, Other Mull Netia Deal

Private equity fund Innova Capital and two others will get a peek at the finances of Polish telecoms operator Netia in a move that could lead to one of them snapping up the group, Reuters reported Tuesday. Netia shares jumped by as much as 4.5% on the news, reaching levels unseen since 2001. Reuters reported in December that Innova and heavyweight funds Advent International and Bridgepoint were circling Netia, planning to delist the $790-million company following a successful tender.

(Reuters) – Private equity fund Innova Capital and two others will get a peek at the finances of Polish telecoms operator Netia in a move that could lead to one of them snapping up the group, two sources told Reuters.

 

Netia shares jumped by as much as 4.5 percent on the news, reaching levels unseen since 2001.

 

“Three investment funds will start due diligence in Netia after Easter. One of them is Innova Capital, another is linked to Play,” a source familiar with the situation told Reuters, refusing to go into more details.

 

Reuters reported in December that Innova and two other heavyweight funds Advent International and Bridgepoint were circling Netia, planning to delist the $790-million company following a successful tender.

 

Netia had no comment, while Innova – which already holds a stake in Polish telecoms group GTS Energis and boasts 900 million euros of funds under management in central Europe – was not available.

 

Netia’s biggest shareholders are Third Avenue Management with 18.3 percent, ING OFE pension fund at 12.6 percent, and SISU Capital with 11.6 percent.

 

Netia was among the initial owners of Play, when Poland’s fourth mobile network launched commercially in 2007, but sold its 23.4 percent stake a year later.

 

Play closed 2011 with 7.08 million clients and a 14-percent stake in the local mobile market.

 

Play is now 50.3-percent owned by Greek businessman Panos Germanos’s fund Tollerton, with the remaining 49.7 percent in the hands of Novator – a fund owned by Icelandic tycoon Thor Bjorgolfsson which once held a stake in Netia, but made an exit in 2009 following the financial meltdown in Iceland.

 

Netia cemented its second place in Poland’s telecoms sector last year by snapping up smaller rivals Dialog, from copper miner KGHM, and Crowley.

 

Hoping to become an even stronger competitor to France Telecom’s Polish unit TPSA, it also expressed interest in the telecom arms of utility PGE and the Polish railways.

 

Netia expects its recent purchases to help sales rise by more than a third in 2012 to 2.2 billion zlotys and core profit (EBITDA) to grow by half. (By Agnieszka Barteczko and Adrian Krajewski; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)