MEP seals €600m Polish cable TV exit

Mid Europa Partners has sold Aster to a US trade player in what would likely be the largest exit in Central and Eastern Europe for 2010.

Mid Europa Partners has sold its Polish cable television business Aster to a US trade buyer, Liberty Global, in what the firm is describing as the largest exit in Central and Eastern Europe this year. The deal values the company at PLN2.4 billion (€600 million; $794 million), comprising around PLN870 million in equity and PLN1.5 billion in net debt.

The sale will generate a money multiple of around 2x for Mid Europa, the firm said in a statement, which originally invested in the business in 2006.

Matthew Strassberg, who led the deal for Mid Europa, said: “Aster has been the first pay-TV operator in Poland to introduce IP telephony, digital TV, high-definition, video-on-demand, and more recently, mobile telephony and data transmission services. This transaction validates Aster’s unique strategic value in the Polish pay-TV and telecommunications landscape.”

Liberty Global is no stranger to private equity sellers having bought Unitymedia, a German cable television provider, from BC Partners and Apollo in late 2009.

“Given the characteristics of Aster’s business and the proximity to our existing operations,” said Mike Fries, president and chief executive officer of Liberty Global, in a statement, “the deal is attractively priced at approximately 7.3 times our estimate of Aster’s 2011 EBITDA, including anticipated annual synergies to be realised following full integration of the acquisition.”

Mid Europa invests exclusively in Central and Eastern Europe. It is currently investing a €1.5 billion fund which was raised in 2007.