Czech Republic's richest man bids for local unit of Telefonica SA

By Marc Castro

Oct 15, 2013 11:25 PM EDT

Telefonica SA is hard pressed to extract a higher premium for its Czech unit. The bidder is billionaire Petr Kellner, whose PPF Group NV would have to take major moves to stop the revenue slide of the company and regain market share.

Telefonica had said yesterday it was in discussions to sell off its 69% shareholdings in the carrier as PPF was the only bidder in the process. This was confirmed by sources familiar with the transaction. The revenue of the unit had fallen every quarter since 2009 as the competition with Vodafone Group Plc and Deutsche Telekom had heated up. Currently, regulators are seeking to expand the market to allow a new operator in for high speed 4G services.

Share values for Telefonica Czech Republic AS had increased by 10% this week at the same time Bloomberg had reported that Telefonica was seeking a purchaser for the company. The price to earnings ratio was at 18, thus making the Prague carrier 13% more expensive than its peers, according to data collated by Bloomberg.

Should a Kellner takeover occur, who is considered the richest man in the Czech Republic, would place the phone monopoly back in Czech hands after eight years of foreign ownership. 

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