Texas Pacific, AXA Buy 60% Of French TV Co.

Target: TDF

Sponsors: Texas Pacific Group, AXA Private Equity

Sellers: Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations,

Charterhouse Capital Partners

Purchase price: $4.13 billion (€ 3.3 billion)

Advisors: BNP Paribas, Merryl Lynch, Perella

Weinberg Partners, Citigroup

Legal Counsel: Bredin Prat Cleary

Acountants: KPMG, Deloitte

French television has probably never been more popular in Texas.

Fort Worth, Texas-based Texas Pacific Group (TPG) is shelling out big bucks to be the biggest shareholder in TDF, a Paris-based television broadcaster and radio broadcast operator. Its co-star in this quest is AXA Private Equity, a Paris-based private equity firm. Together the two firms now own more than 60% of the French broadcaster.

TPG and AXA agreed to buy the stakes from Paris’s Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations and London-based Charterhouse Capital Partners. The Wall Street Journal reported that TPG and AXA paid $4.13 billion (€ 3.3 billion).

The deal will leave TPG as the company’s largest shareholder with a 42% stake in the company, while AXA will have an 18% stake. Caisse des Dépôts, which had a 30% stake prior to the deal, will maintain a 24% stake in the company. Charterhouse will drop from a 69% stake to a 14% stake in the company. Management and employees, meanwhile, will retain 2%.

The sale comes as part of the company’s reorganization and adoption of a different operational strategy. The French broadcaster and media company has pursued a number of different initiatives recently, including launching a multi-media division. TDF says that the new funding will be used to roll out digital technology, mobile television technology and enhanced telecom services. The company says that the deal would create $1.3 billion (€1 billion) of funding for “organic growth” over the next five years and an additional $1.3 billion (€1 billion) to finance mergers and acquisitions.

AXA and Texas Pacific declined to comment. TDF announced the agreement but did not disclose or confirm financial terms of the deal.

Media is familiar ground for TPG. Earlier this year, Spanish language broadcaster Univision Communications Inc. (NYSE: UVN), agreed to be acquired by a consortium of private equity firms that included TPG; the price was $36.25 per share plus the assumption of $1.4 billion of debt, for a total transaction value of $13.7 billion, or 16x Univision’s estimated 2006 EBITDA (see Buyouts, July 10, 2006). Other telecom and media companies in TPG’s portfolio include Eutelsat, Gemalto, MGM, Mobilcom and TIM Hellas.

AXA is also an experienced player in media. Earlier this month, France Telecom received European Commission approval to sell its 54% stake in directories company PagesJaunes for around €3.3 billion to a private equity consortium that includes AXA, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Eurazeo and Goldman Sachs.—M.S.