Polkomtel Bidders Begin Due Diligence This Month

Polish cell phone operator Polkomtel is opening the books to seven short-listed buyers as it moves closer to a sale. The deal could reach as high as $7 billion, Reuters reported. Apax Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Providence Equity Partners are reportedly among the private equity bidders, as well as a joint bid from TPG Capital and Blackstone.

(Reuters) – Polkomtel [PTL.UL] will open up its books to seven short-listed bidders after March 21 as they move closer to snapping up Poland’s No. 2 cellphone operator, which could be valued at up to $7 billion.

Chief Executive Krzysztof Kilian told reporters that three sector players and four financial investors were vying for Polkomtel, put up for sale by Vodafone and several Polish state-linked companies.

“After March 21 we will start due diligence,” he said, but did not name any of the bidders.

Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier this week that the current Polkomtel owners shortlisted Apax [APAX.UL], KKR , Providence, and a joint bid from private equity funds TPG [TPG.UL] and Blackstone . [ID:nLDE723194]

Also remaining in the race are Polish tycoon Zygmunt Solorz Zak and Nordic operators TeliaSonera and Telenor .

Bankers said early in the process that Polkomtel was worth around 4 billion euros ($5.5 billion), but sources said there was enough appetite in the debt markets to stretch the valuation to at least 5 billion euros if bidders wanted to offer more.

Polkomtel’s Polish owners are state-controlled utility PGE , copper miner KGHM , refiner PKN Orlen and coal trader Weglokoks.

(Reporting by Adrian Krajewski, writing by Chris Borowski; Editing by Will Waterman)