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Reuters – KKR Among Bidders for German Cell Towers

Private equity firm KKR is among bidders for the German cell phone towers put up for sale by Dutch telecoms group KPN, Reuters reported. Sources familiar with KPN said the company hopes to fetch 300-400 million euros ($387-$516 million) from the sale. According to this person, private equity firms EQT, KKR as well as French television network operator TDF Group and Antin Infrastructure Partners are still in the race, Reuters wrote.

(Reuters) – Private equity firm KKR is among bidders for the German cell phone towers put up for sale by Dutch telecoms group KPN, people familiar with the process said.

Sources familiar with KPN said the company hopes to fetch 300-400 million euros ($387-$516 million) from the sale.

“First bids are in and due diligence is being done,” one of the sources said.

According to this person, private equity firms EQT, KKR as well as French television network operator TDF Group and Antin Infrastructure Partners are still in the race.

Another person said Australian investment bank Macquarie had also shown interest but has pulled out of the process.

EQT, TDF, KRR and KPN declined to comment. KPN, like other European telecom companies, is trying to raise money to cope with declining profits, heavy debts and a need for network upgrades.

KPN’s brands in Germany include Base and E-Plus, which is the third-biggest German telecom operator behind Britain’s Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom.

KPN had previously tried and failed to sell off E-Plus as a way to fend off Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, who now owns roughly 28 percent of the Dutch company.

E-Plus has about 18,000 so-called base stations in Germany, comparing with 17,000 at O2, and 22,000 each for Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone.

As part of the deal KPN, plans to lease back the towers from the new owner.

In the second quarter KPN’s core earnings in Germany were 39.8 percent of sales, down from a 41.6 percent margin in the same period in the 2011. (By Arno Schuetze and Harro Ten Wolde)