TIM Hellas deal announced

Apax and Texas Pacific Group have announced the €3.4bn sale of Greek mobile phone carrier TIM Hellas to Weather Investments, the company controlled by the Egyptian entrepreneur Naguib Sawaris. The sale price of €3.4bn includes €500m of equity plus €2.9bn of net debt.

Apax and TPG acquired TIM Hellas from Telecom Italia in June 2005 for €1.6bn. In January 2006, the consortium completed the follow-on acquisition of Q-Telecom, the fourth largest Greek mobile operator, from Info-Quest for €360m.

The acquisition will complement the telecoms portfolio controlled by the Sawaris family: Weather Investments already owns Italian telecommunications group Wind and 50% plus one share of Orascom Telecom Holding, the Egypt-based holding company of telecom assets in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. Weather Investments had acquired a majority stake in Wind in a US$15bn buyout in 2005, with Italian energy company Enel retaining a minority stake.

Giancarlo Aliberti, who led the deal for Apax Partners, said: “This is a very pleasing result for our investors as well as the management and employees of TIM Hellas.” At the end of 2006, TIM Hellas launched a €1.4bn restructuring of its debt to pay its owners a dividend.

Earlier in 2006, three binding bids for TIM Hellas had been rejected. They came from Turkish mobile telecom company Turkcell, buyout firm Providence Equity Partners and an unnamed company.

Lehman Brothers and Morgan Stanley acted as financial advisers to Apax and TPG. Completion of the transaction will be subject to European Commission antitrust and local regulatory approval.