PE firms snap up KPN cable assets

A consortium of Polish private equity firms has reached agreement with Dutch telecoms firm KPN over the sale of its Polish cable assets.

Dutch telecoms company KPN has completed its disposal programme of European cable assets with the sale of its Polish cable activities to a consortium led by Polish firm 3TS Venture Partners. The price for the assets, which has not been disclosed, is thought to be in excess of $10m.

The 3TS consortium, which comprised Nova Polonia Private Equity Fund, Dutch Development Bank and Innova/98, beat off competition from several financial and trade buyers for the assets, which includes access to 55,000 cable subscribers in Southern Poland.

The deal, which is subject to approval by the Polish competition authorities, completes KPN’s disposal programme of cable assets which has netted the firm $700m. KPN, in line with many of its European competitors, is seeking to reduce its debt pile from E22bn last year to E13.9bn by the end of 2002.

3TS Ventures, which invests in technology-related investments in Central and Eastern Europe, is continuing to make investments despite the downturn in the sector. “Prices are deflated at present due to the lack of liquidity in investments. We have a three to four year time horizon for our investments and we’re confident the market will have picked up by then,” said a source.

3TS is backed by 3i and Sitra (Finnish National Fund for Research and Development). The firm is currently investing from its first fund, the Technologieholding Central and Eastern European Fund NV, which raised E66m in 2000.

3TS is looking to fund bolt-on acquisitions for the KPN assets around Central Europe: “We will seek investments on an opportunistic basis, but the attraction of these assets is that as a standalone entity they are already producing adequate returns and require no capital expenditure.”