TDC Abandons Sale of Sunrise to France Telecom

(Reuters) – Danish telecom group TDC’s (TDC.CO) private equity owners still aim to sell it at some time, even though the company has had to abandon plans to sell Swiss unit Sunrise to France Telecom (FTE.PA), its chief executive told newspaper Berlingske.

France Telecom and TDC said late on Thursday they had abandoned plans for the French group to buy Sunrise after competition regulators rejected the plan in April.

The failure of the deal has increasd uncertainty about whether TDC’s main owners — Apax Partners, Blackstone Group (BX.N), Kohlberg Kravis Roberts [KKR.UL], Permira Advisers [PERM.UL] and Providence Equity Partners with 87.9 percent of TDC’s stock — would go ahead with a large stock offering or shelve it.

But Chief Executive Henrik Poulsen said the Sunrise decision would not in itself stop the owners from selling, although the timing of a sale is still uncertain, newspaper Berlingske Tidende quoted him as saying on Friday.

“Our owners are of course considering whether they can at some point pull out of their investment, but that can perfectly well happen with Sunrise as part of the group,” it quoted Poulsen as saying.

However, Poulsen said a sale would not take place in current “demanding” markets.

“It hasn’t been our timing to carry it out in this market. It is not on the cards,” Poulsen told Berlingske. “We have lots of time and patience and I’m sure the shareholders do too.”

TDC will “continue to invest” in Sunrise, Poulsen said.

No one at TDC was immediately available to comment.

There have been expectations of a TDC stock offering this year being delayed or scrapped, mainly due to the Swiss regulators’ decision, but also due to volatility on European stock markets.

Though TDC has remained listed in Copenhagen after the 2006 buyout by the private equity firms, the stock is illiquid so a possible stock offering is seen by many as tantamount to an initial public offering, one of the biggest in Denmark for many years. (Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; Editing by Greg Mahlich)