TPG, Apax continue Greek wireless pursuit

Texas Pacific Group and Apax Partners have agreed to their second deal in the Greek mobile telecom market in the past seven months, buying Q-Telecom in a €350 million deal. There are no plans as of yet to combine the two.

In its second deal in two days, Texas Pacific Group has teamed up with Apax Partners to acquire the Q-Telecom wireless business of Greece’s Info-Quest SA. The €350 million deal ($420 million), including €25 million of assumed debt, still needs to receive regulatory approval before it closes.

Q-Telecom is the fourth largest mobile communications operator in Greece. The company provides GSM mobile services, specializing in pre-paid service, and currently has over 980,000 customers.

The deal could eventually represent a consolidation play for the private equity groups involved. The firms acquired an 80 percent stake in Q-Telecom rival TIM Hellas in April in a roughly €1.1 billion deal. The group has tried to take the company private, reportedly offering €16.4 per share to buyout the minority stakeholders, but the buyers have so far met resistance. TCS Capital, the largest minority shareholder, is spearheading the effort to block the buyout, according to reports, and is seeking as much as €25 a share.

If Apax and Texas Pacific ever do merge TIM Hellas and Q-Telecom, the combined company would reportedly give the investors a roughly 27 percent share of the wireless market in Greece. However, a source close to the buyers tells PEO that there aren’t any current plans to merge the two businesses.

The firms will finance the deal with debt provided by Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan, which is also advising the group on the purchase. Cleary Gottlieb is serving as legal counsel to the buyers on the regulatory issues, while Athens law firm Karatzas & Partners is also overseeing the deal. KPMG is providing the accounting due diligence.

Apax recently closed its latest European fund, Apax Europe VI, in July, taking in €4.3 billion. Texas Pacific Group last raised a fund in 2003, closing on $5.8 billion for its TPG Partners IV LP fund.

Yesterday, Texas Pacific Group also announced a $1.5 billion deal to buy a 60 percent stake in independent brokerage Linsco/Private Ledger. The firm partnered with Hellman & Friedman for the deal.