EMP Europe to return $337m in double exit

The Central and Eastern Europe private equity firm has announced two telecoms exits in the Czech Republic and Romania, which will return $337m to its investors.

EMP Europe has announced a double exit, through its stake in Telesystem International Wireless (TIW), from its $550 million AIG Emerging Europe Infrastructure Fund.

TIW has agreed to sell its holdings of GSM operators MobiFon in Romania and Oskar Mobil in the Czech Republic to Vodafone International Holdings.

EMP Europe invested in Oskar in 1999 and MobiFon in 2003. In 2004, the firm rolled its shareholdings into an influential position and part of the control block within TIW, which currently holds 79 percent of MobiFon and all of Oskar.

Oskar was launched in March 2000 and has attracted more than 1.8 million subscribers in the Czech Republic. Mobifon launched the first GSM network in Romania in April 1997 and had 4.9 million registered users by the end of 2004.

Commenting on the transaction, CEO Thierry Baudon said in a statement: “The close and constructive working relationship we built with senior management in developing the strategic goals has resulted in both MobiFon and Oskar meeting or exceeding our ambitious initial plans for revenue and earnings growth.”

The announcement follows two successful exits at the end of 2004 for EMP Europe. In December the firm sold its stake in Slovenian broadband provider Telemach in a transaction valued at €71 million. In September, the firm sold its 39 percent stake in Polish cable TV operator Aster City Cable to Hicks Muse (Europe) for more than three times its original investment.

EMP Europe has a team of 11 investment professionals operating from offices in London, Budapest and Warsaw. Following the latest transaction, the firm has achieved five full exits and returned $640 million to investors in the AIG Emerging Europe Infrastructure Fund.