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3i leads buyout from Sonera

The firm has completed an MBO at Sonera’s directory services subsidiary.

3i and Sonera, the Finnish mobile communications and mobile-based services provider have reached agreement on a E111.5m MBO of Sonera Info Communications Ltd (SIC).

3i has joined forces with Veronis Suhler and the management of SIC to acquire SIC, a provider of electronic and operator-assisted directory services in Finland. The deal will see 3i taking a 70 per cent stake, with Suhler and management taking 28 per cent and 2 per cent respectively. As part of the deal SIC will be re-named Fonecta.

The company currently has operations in Finland and France but manages projects worldwide. 3i says it will look to take advantage of recent changes in EU regulation which requires telecommunications operators to give customer identification data to other service providers. This change is seen as presenting great opportunities for Fonecta to expand its directory services across Europe.

Chris Graham, Director of media investments at 3i, said that Fonecta had a strong position in the Finnish market that, coupled with the deregulation of the EU market, would enable Fonecta ‘to grow exponentially in the next few years’.

Fonecta is the market leader in electronic and operator-assisted directory services in Finland. The company has about 960 employees, 630 of them in Finland. In 2001, the company’s revenues totalled to E71m.