Deutsche Bank is close to finalising a deal to sell its German cable television unit Telecolumbus to financial buyers, with BC Partners leading the way with an offer of between E450m and E500m.
BC Partners, which has an office in Hamburg, is one of three private equity groups, including a consortium of Apax Partners, Providence Equity and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, which successfully bid for Deutsche Telekom’s cable assets in a E1.7bn deal earlier this year, that are reportedly planning to submit final offers for the business. Also bidding is US private equity firm Apollo.
Liberty Media had initially planned to acquire the unit, which has a million subscribers in Germany, but pulled out of a deal after the cartel office ruled against its proposal to acquire Deutsche Telekom’s cable assets.
BC Partners is thought most likely to succeed with its offer because it will not engender competition concerns. Commented a source familiar with the situation: “Apax already controls the backbone of six regional cable operators. There may be competition concerns were it to acquire the consumer-facing section in one of the regions as well.”
However, a report in German business daily Handelsblatt suggested that BC Partners and Apax had already agreed a cooperation strategy if BC Partners is successful with its offer. BC Partners was unavailable for comment.
The German cable TV market has been a busy sector for private equity firms in 2003. In addition to the Apax consortium's acquisition of Deutsche Telekom's cable assets in January, Permira announced that it had finalised plans to buy German pay-TV channel Premiere for around E220m.
Final bids for Telecolumbus are to be submitted today, with a decision from Deutsche Bank expected in mid-March. Deutsche Bank paid E720m for the business in 1999.