3i gets Sonera directories

Leading Finnish phone company, Sonera has agreed to sell its directory business to 3i for a total cash consideration of EURO125 million. Sonera Info Communications is a directory solutions partner for mobile and fixed line operators, content providers, mobile portals, Internet service providers and public corporations. The company provides directory services to meet the needs of different customer segments. The business operates in European markets as well as China and employs around 950 professionals worldwide.

The sale mirrors the recent trend for phone companies selling directory businesses to reduce debts. Recent examples include Hicks Muse Tate & Furst and Apax Partners’ EURO2.37 billion acquisition of BT’s directory business and Texas Pacific Group’s EURO730 million acquisition of Norwegian phone company Telenor’s directory business.

The transaction also includes Sonera’s ten per cent holding in Conduit and a 45 per cent stake in 118 Ltd, as well as Sonera Info Communications Ltd’s 100 per cent holding in Intra Call Center, a 30 per cent stake in Suomen Keltaiset Sivut Oy and a 40 per cent holding in Suomen Numeropalvelu.

The definitive agreement is to be signed by the end of the year 2001 and the deal is expected to close during the first quarter of 2002.