EMP agrees Polish cable sale to Hicks, Muse

Emerging Markets Partnership (EMP), the Central Europe-focused private equity house, has agreed to sell its 39 percent stake in Polish broadband operator Aster City Cable to Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst.

Emerging Markets Partnership (EMP Europe) has announced that the AIG Emerging Europe Infrastructure fund, which it advises, has entered a definitive agreement to sell a 39 percent stake in Aster City Cable to funds managed by US buyout firm Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, which is an existing investor in the business.

EMP teamed up with Hicks, Muse and Argus Capital Partners – a division of Prudential-owned PRICOA Capital Group – to buy Aster from Elektrim Telekomunikacja, the Polish telecom business, for €110 million in March 2003.

EMP chief executive Thierry Baudon said EMP expected to generate a return of approximately three times its initial investment from the sale to its fellow investor. He added that Aster had been transformed thanks to the expenditure of $20 million on the build-out of its infrastructure. The firm now has over 55,000 high-speed data subscribers on its network.

Aster is one of the largest Polish cable TV and broadband operators, serving over 350,000 subscribers in Warsaw, Krakow and Zielona Gora. It provides analogue and premium digital cable TV services as well as broadband internet and telephony.

EMP’s $550 million AIG Emerging Europe Infrastructure fund has so far committed $475 million to ten investments in nine different Central and Eastern European countries. EMP Europe has offices in London, Budapest and Warsaw.