Mid Europa in telecoms buy back

The central European buyout firm has paid PLN1.6 billion to buy Aster City Cable, the Polish telecoms company it sold in 2004.

Mid Europa Partners (MEP), the London-based Central and  Eastern European buyout firm, has re-acquired Polish media and communications company Aster City Cable from Lion Capital.
The firm has paid PLN1.6 billion (€412 million; $489 million) to buy back the company which it had until September 2004 co-owned with Lion. At the time, MEP was known as EMP Europe, while Lion was the European arm of Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst.

Lion received a return of 4.8 times their original investment on the deal, according to a statement from the firm.
“At the time of the sale we were at a crossroads,” Matthew Strassberg, a spokesman for MEP, told PEO. “We thought the consolidation of the market in Poland would have a five year time horizon, but we were at the end of the investment cycle of an old fund and were in no position to participate. We also held a joint position with Hicks Muse and so could not control the company. Now we have a new fund to provide capital resources for the company to become a consolidator over the next five years.”
He added that MEP expects to hold a final close of its new fund, the €650 million ($765 million) Emerging Europe Convergence Fund II, shortly.
Aster is a triple-play provider, offering television, broadband internet and telephony services. A statement from the two firms describes it as Poland’s fourth-largest CATV operator and third largest broadband ISP.
Recent weeks have seen significant deal activity in the European telecoms sector. In late November it was announced that an Apax and KKR-led consortium was to buy TDC, Denmark’s largest telecom operator, in a deal that at €10 billion was believed to be the largest buyout yet seen in the Nordic region.
Earlier this year an Aletheia Partners-led consortium paid €600 million to acquire German Cable company EWT, and EQT Partners sold Swedish communications company Com Hem to The Carlyle Group and Providence Equity Partners for around €1 billion last week.