Reuters: RLPC-Owners Seek to Merge, Then List, Numericable and Completel

(Reuters) – The private equity owners of French cable company Numericable and French telecoms group Completel are seeking to merge the two businesses ahead of a possible listing of the combined operation later this year, banking sources said.

Numericable was acquired in a leveraged buyout in 2006 by Cinven, Carlyle and Altice, which then went on to buy Completel, a business-to-business infrastructure-based telecommunications company, in 2007.

BNP, Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan are running the process and a call took place with Numericable’s lenders on Wednesday night to seek a waiver to allow a merger and give the option of a future stock market listing, banking sources said.

A merged company could be worth up to 5 billion euros ($6.7 billion) based on a multiple of around 8 times Numericable’s 2012 core earnings of 456 million euros, plus 181 million euros for Completel.

Numericable’s owners hired Rothschild earlier this year to work on a Paris stock market listing after talks to merge with Vivendi’s mobile unit, SFR, failed.

Numericable has around 2.3 billion euros of debt and Completel approximately 450 million euros of debt. If the companies merge, the debt in each is expected to be ringfenced initially, but Completel’s could be refinanced at a later stage and added to Numericable, bankers said.

Numericable’s term loans have risen steadily this year on Europe’s secondary loan market and its extended term loan B was quoted over par at 100.5 on Thursday versus 96.4 on Jan. 1.

Completel’s term loan B was quoted at 100.1 compared with 96.9 on Jan. 1, according to Thomson Reuters LPC data.
Numericable is the only cable operator in France, and it covers roughly one-third of households, offering packages of pay-TV, Internet and fixed calls. Completel sells high-speed broadband to corporate clients.

Cinven declined to comment, Altice, Carlyle and Numericable were not immediately available to comment.