Carlyle buys stake in two French cable companies for €1.1bn

The deal provides a partial exit for rival European buyout firm Cinven, valuing the two cable companies at more than double the cost of the buy and build strategy which formed them over three years.

Global investment firm The Carlyle Group has completed its acquisition of a 37.8 percent stake in telecommunications companies Numericable and Completel for €1.1 billion ($1.7 billlion) from European buyout firm Cinven and its portfolio company Altice, according to a statement. When the deal was signed in December terms were undisclosed.

The deal gives the two companies an aggregate enterprise value of €6.5 billion. Carlyle said the equity investment is the largest by a private equity firm in France.

Cinven and Altice will retain a stake in the companies. Numericable provides nearly 10 million households with high speed cable access providing television, video on demand, high speed internet and telephony services.

Numericable has a fibre network which provides fast cable access to 2 million households and this will be extended to 8 million households by 2010. Completel provides internet and telephone connections to corporate customers.

Cinven bought Numericable in March 2005 for €528 million. This was the combined value of a merger between two cable operators – FT Câble, bought from France Télécom, and NC Numéricable, acquired from television company Canal+ and media company Vivendi – as well as the cable networks of France Télécom and the acquisition of cable company TDF.

Cinven subsequently pursued a buy and build strategy of cable companies acquiring Altice One, the company it is retaining, in November 2005 for €525 million and Noos-UPC in July 2006 for €1.25 billion.