Polish billionaire mooted as potential buyer for Polkomtel

New reports have arisen suggesting that the Polish operator Polkomtel is likely to be acquired by a fellow Pole, the billionaire Zygmunt Solorz-Zak, who is thought to be the nation’s second most wealthy man.

Solorz-Zak has reportedly placed a PLN18 billion (US$6.6 billion) bid for the operator, outstripping his two biggest rivals - Apax Partners, and an alliance of Norwegian operator Telenor and private equity group Bain. The winning candidate could be chosen as early as this week by Polkomtel’s owners, which encompass state-owned entities as well as private firms such as Vodafone, which holds a 24% stake.

One of the Polish operator’s shareholders has stated that three offers have been made, but none of the bidders have been identified yet. A number of potential candidates believed to be interested have recently dropped out of the bidding, among them Sweden’s TeliaSonera.

Acquiring Polkomtel would present Solorz-Zak the opportunity of offering service bundles of Internet, phone and TV services, as he currently owns Poland’s number two TV firm, Polsat. The billionaire’s bid equates to the enterprise value of Polkomtel as well as covering debts which could potentially be refinanced.

Reports claim that the operator’s net debt is around PLN2 billion, with a further PLN1.03 billion dividend owed to its existing shareholders as well as an outstanding fine of PLN130.7 million owed to antitrust regulators.

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