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Goldman Sachs to bid for PagesJaunes stake

US investment bank Goldman Sachs is to partner with PAI Partners to bid for France Telecom’s 54% stake in the French yellow pages business.

Goldman Sachs is preparing to enter the auction for France Telecom’s remaining 54 per cent stake in PagesJaunes, a French yellow pages business.

The US bank is partnering with PAI, a French buyout firm, to bid for the business. France Telecom said earlier this month it was prepared to sell all or part of its €3.5bn holding.

According to one managing director at a US investment bank, Goldman and PAI will compete against bids from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, a US buyout firm; BC Partners, a UK rival and Eurazeo, another French private equity manager. He said it was too early to talk about price, but first round bids were due soon.

Vivendi, the French utility group, said last week that it was interested in bidding. A consortium of Apax and Cinven was according to one report the frontrunner to buy the national carrier’s stake after losing the acution for TPI, a Spanish directories business sold to UK Yellow Pages owner Yell in April.

A successful bid for the France Telecom stake is likely to lead to a bid for the rest of the shares in the company, which is listed on the French stock exchange.

The deal is the latest transaction involving telephone directory businesses. TDC of Denmark sold its yellow pages business to Macquarie, an Australian bank, and a group of investors for €650m in October.

Telegate, a German directory group, bought the directory business of SNT Deutschland, its local rival, two weeks ago in a deal worth about €8m.

Yell, which was spun out of BT Group in 2001, paid €3.07bn for TPI – roughly 23 times its forecast earnings.