Apax goes it alone in Polish auction

Three private equity firms are vying with corporate players to acquire Polish telecommunications group Polkomtel, with binding offers expected to come in above the $6bn-mark in a month’s time.

Apax Partners is understood to remain in the running to acquire Poland's second biggest telecommunications company but is bidding solo, contrary to press reports, a source with knowledge of the process said. 

Polish daily Rzeczpospolita reported Thursday that Apax had teamed up with Bain Capital. A spokesman for Bain was unable to comment on whether the firm remained in the process. Apax declined to comment.

US private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has reportedly partnered with telecoms specialist Providence Equity Partners to make a bid. KKR declined to comment while Providence’s spokesperson could not be reached.

The company is expected to receive bids in excess of a November valuation by Polish group KGHM, which valued it at $5.3bn. It was placed on the auction block by telecoms group Vodafone and several state-backed companies which include KGHM.

Three corporate bidders are understood to remain in the running to acquire Polkomtel, which is part-owned by the Polish state. Polish tycoon Zygmunt Solorz-Zak, Swedish telecommunications group TeliaSonera, and Norwegian company Telenor are all understood to be preparing bids.

Binding offers are due by May 6, after which two to three bidders will be selected to progress to another round of bidding after conducting more in-depth due diligence, according to Krzysztof Kilian, deputy chief executive of Polkomtel. He also told reporters yesterday that the number of bidders had shrunk from seven to five.