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Consortium buys CEE telecoms company

GTS Central Europe has been acquired by US and Polish investors, who have drafted in a new chief executive.

A consortium led by Columbia Capital and M/C Venture Partners, two US venture firms, as well as Innova Capital, a Warsaw-based private equity firm, has bought GTS Central Europe, a Central and Eastern European telecom service operator from Group Menatep, a holding company.

The company was bought for an undisclosed sum by the consortium, which also included Oak Investment Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners, two other US venture firms, as well as HarbourVest Partners, a US-based fund of funds manager.

GTS has operations principally in Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. The company is focussed on business and wholesale customers. GTS also operates in the Ukraine, Latvia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Croatia and Serbia. It had approximately €400 million ($616 million) of revenues and €70 million EBITDA in 2007.

Adam Sawicki will join GTS as chief executive from TeliaSonera International Carrier, where he was vice president and head of West Europe and North America.

Many telecoms buyouts have been completed in Central and Eastern Europe over the years. In December last year SigmaBleyzer, an Eastern European growth capital firm, and other shareholders, sold a significant stake in Ukrainian telecoms company Volia Cable to Providence Equity Partners for more than $200 million (€136.4 million). The previous May, Mid Europa Partners and GMT Communications Partners sold Invitel, Hungary’s second-biggest fixed line telecoms operator, to Hungarian Telephone & Cable, for €470 million.