Tele Columbus Sale Is Close

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Indebted German cable provider Tele Columbus could be sold soon and is being circled by several potential buyers, sources close to the deal told Reuters on Friday.

The selling process could begin in the next couple of weeks, the sources said. Financial sources said the deal could be valued at 400-500 million euros ($574-$718 million).

Besides Kabel Deutschland (KDG), owned by Providence Equity Partners, financial sources told Reuters that German telecoms provider Versatel (VTWGn.DE), with Apax Partners as a major shareholder, is also interested.

KDG has already confirmed its interest. A Versatel spokeswoman declined to comment on Tele Columbus but said that Versatel would make acquisitions in future if it made sense for clients and shareholders.

Tele Columbus is seen as an interesting asset because of its two million client base and its network with direct access to households, which national cable providers like KDG are lacking and which is crucial to market additional offers such as internet and pay-TV.

Tele Columbus, together with listed sister company Primacom (PRIG.DE), rank third among Germany’s cable providers and both belong via the holding company Orion Cable to Luxemburg-based Escaline [ESCALO.UL].

Tele Columbus has almost 950 million euros of debt and one of the sources said that its finances had to be improved before the sale. Another source said one solution would be for lenders to do a debt-for-equity swap with a potential buyer.

(Reporting by Nikola Rotscheroth, Peter Maushagen and Philipp Halstrick; editing by John Stonestreet)