Apax, Madison Dearborn and TA in €1.1bn telecom deal

The private equity firms have purchased shares in Weather Investments, whose mobile phone service subsidiaries include Wind Hellas and Wind Telecomunicazioni.

Apax Partners Worldwide, Madison Dearborn Partners and TA Associates have purchased shares worth €1.1 billion ($1.7 billion) in telecommunications company Weather Investments.

The Italian company’s mobile phone service subsidiaries include Wind Hellas, Wind Telecomunicazioni, and Orascom Telecom Holding. It counts more than 90 million subscribers in Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Pakistan, and Tunisia and in early 2008 acquired a license to operate in North Korea.

Richard Wilson, Apax’s head of tech and telecom investments, will join the company’s board, as will Madison Dearborn managing director Michael Cole and TA Associates managing director Ajit Nedungadi.

Wilson said deal origins were thanks to the UK private equity firm’s links with Weather Investment’s chairman and chief executive, Naguib Sawiris, an Egyptian telecom entrepreneur. It sold TIM Hellas, a Greek mobile phone operator it owned with TPG, last year to Sawiris. The €3.4 billion sale netted a total return of 4.5 times its original investment.

Madison Dearborn and TA Associates, both US-based buyout firms, are long standing telecom investors and have clubbed together on past deals for companies including MetroPCS, which last year raised just over $1 billion in it initial public offering.