STOCKHOLM -(Dow Jones)- U.S. media conglomerate Liberty Media, Germany's largest cable operator Kabel Deutschland Holding AG (KD8.XE) and a handful of private equity firms are among bidders in the roughly EUR3 billion Kabel Baden-Wurttemberg auction by Swedish private group EQT, a person familiar with the situation said Monday.
EQT, the private equity arm of Sweden's Wallenberg family, launched the sales process for Germany's third biggest cable operator last year, lining up banks in preparation of either an initial public offering or outright sale.
The person said the deal could be worth around EUR3 billion, equal to the market value of comparable listed peers. Media reports Monday said that indicative bids were in the range of EUR2.5 billion to EUR3 billion.
Kabel BW managers are set to give business presentations to bidders who have passed the first stage this week, with the next round of bids due by Feb. 16, the person said.
A deal with Liberty Media or Kabel Deutschland would further consolidate Germany's cable operating market and could face competition hurdles.
Instead the company, with more than 2.3 million subscribers, could go to one of several private equity firms that have also shown interest, including Apax Partners LLP, CVC Capital Partners and Hellman & Friedman.
All of the three major German cable network providers have been held by financial investors in the past.
Unitymedia was sold to Liberty Global Inc. (LBTYA) late in 2009, and last spring Kabel Deutschland went public.
EQT acquired the Heidelberg-based provider of cable TV, Internet and telephone services from U.S. investment group Blackstone for around EUR1.3 billion in 2006 and has invested more than EUR800 million in network expansion.
Kabel BW increased sales from EUR255 million in 2005 to EUR493 million in 2009, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose in the same period from EUR122 million to EUR261 million.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Deutsche Bank AG (DB) are serving as advisors to EQT in the process.
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