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Private Equity Firms Target UK 4G Mobile Operator EE with GBP10bn Bid

Thursday, February 7th, 2013 (1:09 pm) - Score 693

A group of several familiar private equity firms, including KKR, Apax Partners, Blackstone and CVC Capital Partners, are once again reported to be preparing another colossal £10bn takeover bid for the 4G offering UK mobile network operator EE (Everything Everywhere).

The alleged move, which was spotted by the FT, closely mirrors a similar takeover bid that surfaced in June last year and was at the time said to be worth between £6.4bn-£8bn (here). It’s understood that to make such an offer more attractive the group would, aside from upping the bid, now also be willing to let EE’s parents (France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom) hold on to a stake worth 15-20%.

It’s interesting to note that France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom are currently conducting a strategic review on “the asset and [will] consider different options with an [Initial Public Offering] as the preferred option“, which is expected to conclude sometime in 2013. Everything Everywhere recently conducted a review of its own and subsequently decided to launch their 4G service under a third brand (EE), which created some extra confusion for consumers.

Big private equity offers for big telecoms firms come and go like the wind but this one appears to have a certain degree of persistence and the discussions are being taken seriously. It’s unclear whether the latest move is still being headed up by the former CEO of Everything Everywhere, Tom Alexander.

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