PE Firms Put NZ Yellow Pages On The Block

(Reuters) – Private equity owners of New Zealand’s Yellow Pages Group have launched a sale process for the business, two sources familiar with the deal said on Friday, in a sale media reports say could be worth around $700 million.

An information memorandum has been sent to potential buyers, including large private equity firms and Telstra’s Corp’s (TLS.AX) Australian directories business Sensis, the sources said.

Hong Kong-based Unitas Capital (formerly called CCMP) and Teacher’s Private Capital acquired the business in 2007 at the height of the asset bubble for NZ$2.165 billion ($1.57 billion).

New Zealand media reports have estimated the loss-making business was now worth between NZ$900 million to just over NZ$1 billion.

Yellow Pages in May appointed Goldman Sachs JBWere as financial adviser to look at a range of options for the business including a sale, a debt restructure and a debt-equity swap.

The company owes lenders NZ$1.8 billion which was borrowed via YPG Finance Ltd in August 2007 to fund the acquisition from Telecom New Zealand.

Its creditors include Barclays Capital (BARC.L), Deutche Bank (DBKGn.DE), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ.AX), Westpac Banking Corp (WBC.AX) and Macquarie Bank (MQG.AX).

The debt has been previously sold by some lenders at around 50 cents to the dollar.

Private equity firms such as Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co [KKR.UL], Pacific Equity Partners and CVC Asic Pacific [CVC.UL] which lodged bids for the business in 2007 were expected to take another look.

“We will consider any such business that is relevant to our business strategy,” a spokeswoman for Sensis said but declined to comment specifically on Yellow Pages.

An industry source said Sensis was expected to take a look but would only buy at the right price.

Yellow Pages in December posted a NZ$338.3 million loss for the June 2009 year compared with a NZ$61.2 million loss the previous year, according to New Zealand media reports.

A spokeswoman for Yellow Pages declined to comment.

By Michael Smith and Sharon Klyne
(Editing by Ed Davies)