Apax beaten to Polkomtel by local entrepreneur

Buyout firm Apax Partners appears to have lost out to Polish entrepreneur Zygmunt Solorz-Zak (pictured) in its battle to acquire state-backed phone company Polkomtel.

Polish billionaire Zygmunt Solorz-Zak, who owns television network Cyfrowy Polsat and is the second-richest man in Poland according to Forbes magazine, has won exclusivity in the fiercely contested auction for telecommunications group Polkomtel.

He fought off rival bids from buyout group Apax Partners and Nordic phone company Telenor, according to Polish daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna. He will now have about a week to finalise the deal, the paper said.

Apax declined to comment. Other buyout firms that had been linked with the bid process included Bain Capital, KKR and telecoms specialist Providence Equity Partners. The auction was formally launched in January.

Solorz-Zak’s winning bid is understood to value the company at about 18 billion zlotys ($6.5 billion). Polkomtel is owned by a host of shareholders, including mobile operator Vodafone Group, power utility PGE, copper producer KGHM Polska Miedz, and oil company PKN Orlen.

To help finance the investment and future ones in the sector, Solorz-Zak and business partner Hieronim Ruta sold a combined 25 percent stake in media group Cyfrowy Polsat for 1.35 billion zlots ($486 million), according to a statement released by the company on Wednesday.