Telefonica has stated that it is “exploring strategic options” that may lead to the sale of its Czech operations.
The debt-laden operator group is currently in talks with private equity PPF, although an agreement is far from confirmed. PPF was widely expected to participate in the Czech Republic’s upcoming 4G auctions, but ruled this out due to a restriction that would have prevented mergers for a 15-year period.
The Spanish telecom group has reportedly enlisted Goldman Sachs and Societe Generale to assist with the sale of Telefonica Czech Republic, in which it holds a 69% stake with a value of $3.6 billion.
Borja Mijangos, an analyst at Interdin Bolsa in Madrid, noted: “It makes sense for Telefonica to sell the asset and focus on the main European countries. Telefonica could use the proceeds from the sale to further deleverage and get ready for the next purchase, which could well be in Brazil.”
Telefonica has already arranged the sale of its Irish assets to PPF owner Petr Kellner, confirming speculation that he would acquire the unit. This will add weight to the notion that PPF will acquire Telefonica Czech Republic.
However, other private equity funds may be interested in the Czech operator, which is currently the second-largest player in the market with over 5 million subscribers.
Telefonica is aiming to reduce its current net debt of €48.6 billion, with a target of below €47 billion by the end of 2013.