Consortium sets central and eastern Europe €1.2bn record

Three firms have raised the bar with a double telecom deal, buying two assets in a single transaction for €1.2bn with a record debt package of €750m.

Mid Europa Partners, a central and eastern European specialist, Lehman Brothers Private Equity and Al Bateen, an investment holding company based in Abu Dhabi, have clubbed together in a €1.2 billion deal, thel argest central European buyout to date.

The three firms have acquired 100 percent of Radiokomunikace, a Czech broadcast services business, and 39.2 percent of T-Mobile Czech Republic, a minority stake in one of the country’s mobile operators.

Craig Butcher, a partner at Mid Europa said: “Radiokomunikace had a joint venture with the mobile operator, which we have bought. Effectively we bought two companies in a single deal.”

The transaction will be partly funded with a €750 million debt package of senior and mezzanine debt financing,  the region’s largest debt package to date. A source close to the deal said the mezzanine strip was just north of €100 million.

The source said the three lending banks were ING, a Dutch bank, Bank Austria and Banca Intesa, an Italian bank.

Radiokomunikace is the only national provider of TV and radio broadcast transmission services and an alternative provider of telecommunications services in the Czech Republic. Butcher said: “We have massive visibility over a strong, recurring revenue stream of the kind highly sought after by private equity.”

T-Mobile is the market leader in mobile telecommunications services in the Czech Republic with approximately 4.8 million subscribers, representing over 40% market share of subscribers. It is one of the few major CEE mobile assets not wholly-owned by a major operator.

Butcher said there was no plan for a quick flip for either of the assets.

Ernst & Young acted as exclusive financial advisor to the consortium.  Linklaters gave legal advice.