Mid Europa snaps up another telecoms business(2)

European private equity firm Mid Europa Partners has broken new ground in the Baltic region with the €450m acquisition of a mobile telephone operator.

Mid Europa Partners, a central European buyout specialist, has bought Baltic mobile telephone operator Bité from TDC, a telecoms company, for €450 million ($583 million).

Bité, which has almost two million subscribers in Lithuania and Latvia, has generated an annual revenue growth rate of 20 percent over the past two years.  The company launched its Latvian business in September 2005, and is already the third largest operator in the country.
Craig Butcher, partner of Mid Europa, said it was the firm’s first investment in Lithuania and Latvia.

Barna Papay, investment officer at Mid Europa, said: “The way we see it, it’s a unique combination of distinct assets.  In Lithuania we have a highly cash-generative business, while Latvia was a two player market where there’s room to grow.” Papay said Mid Europa would hold the investment for about five years.

The acquisition is also the third largest leveraged buyout in the region to date, just behind the €1.2 billion acquisition of Czech broadcaster CRa by Mid Europa, Lehman Brothers and United Arab Emirates-based Al Bateen Investment in November, and the €1.2 billion purchase of Hungarian mobile phone operator Mobiltel by a consortium that included ABN AMRO Capital and Citigroup.

Mid Europa has invested in a number of telecoms businesses in central and eastern Europe. Previous acquisitions include Romanian company MobilFon, Slovakia’s Orange Slovensko, and Czech operator Oskar, although it has now exited all of these investments.

Last week it made its latest exit from the sector when it sold Invitel, a Hungarian fixed line business it owned with fellow buyout firm GMT Communications, to Hungarian Telephone & Cable for €470 million.

Mid Europa Partners advises and manages funds of more than €1.1 billion.