Veronis Suhler, 3i close TeleMedia deal

The two venture capitalists have agreed to pay Royal KPN E500m for the Dutch telephone directories operator.

( UK private equity firm 3i has teamed with New York-based media merchant bank Veronis Suhler Stevenson in an agreement to acquire TeleMedia, the directories unit of Dutch telecommunications company Royal KPN for E500m.


Terms of the deal were not disclosed, according to a press release. Veronis Suhler Stevenson’s commitment came from the firm’s VS&A Communications Partners III private equity fund.


TeleMedia is a leading telephone directory company in the Netherlands. The company prints 50 regional directories, as well as CD-ROM and online products. The company had pro forma net revenues of E139m in 2001.


“Because of our expertise and dedication to the media industry, we are convinced that 3i and Veronis Suhler Stevenson are the qualified partners to enable TeleMedia to further strengthen and grow its already successful performance,” Chris Graham, director and head of media at 3i, said in the statement.


“Our intended investment in TeleMedia is exemplary of our strategy and focus on the directories sector in the U.S. and Europe,” Marco Sodi, a principal and managing director at Veronis Suhler Stevenson, said in the statement. “TeleMedia represents a solid platform with a firm position in the Netherlands and is well positioned for further growth.”


This is the second time this year the firms have teamed up on a European directories acquisition. In May, the firms acquired Fonecta Group, formerly knows as Sonera Info Communications, a Finnish directory services providers. The company provides directory assistance services over the phone as well as printed directories. The buyout was valued at E111.5m. 3i acquired a 70 per cent stake in the company, with Veronis Suhler Stevenson taking a 28 per cent stake.


Both firms have extensive experience in the directories sector other than Fonecta. In 1999, 3i was part of a group that included Apax and Advent International that acquired TDL Infomedia, publisher of the Thomson Local directories in the UK In December 2000, the group sold the company to Italian media conglomerate and Bain Capital portfolio company Seat Pagine Gialle for an equity value of £308m and the assumption of approximately £150m of debt.


In 1999, Veronis Suhler Stevenson sold its stake in Yellow Book, a US publisher of yellow page directories, to British Telecom-owned Yell Group for $665m. Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst and Apax Partners acquired Yell Group in May 2000 for £2.14bn.


3i is one of Europe’s largest venture capital firm with offices in 43 countries. The firm has invested over $19bn in more than 13,500 companies internationally. The firm began US operations in December 1999, where its investment focus is usually on technology.


VS&A Communications Partners, the private equity arm of Veronis Suhler Stevenson, makes direct investments in the media, communications and information industries. The firm makes investments ranging between $5m and $200m. The firm’s third fund, VS&A Communications Partners III, closed on $1bn in 1999.