Seven bidders line up for TDF's French unit: sources


About seven bidders are lining up for Telediffusion de France's (TDF) domestic business and lenders are preparing debt packages of more than 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion) for a deal worth about 4 billion euros, people familiar with the matter said.

Interested parties include U.S. mobile tower operators American Tower and Crown Castle , Canadian pension funds CPP and Public Sector Pension (PSI), infrastructure funds Antin of France and Australia's AMP Capital, as well as leverage buyout firms, three sources said.

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They are expected to bid for the domestic unit of the digital television distribution group ahead of Friday's deadline for first round bids, the sources said.

TDF is owned by private equity firms Axa Private Equity, Charterhouse and Texas Pacific Group (TPG) as well as French state-backed investment fund Fonds Strategique d'Investissement.

It hired Goldman Sachs and Rothschild to run a sale process earlier this year for the unit, the sources said.

TPG and Charterhouse declined to comment while none of the other parties were immediately available for comment.

TDF sold its Finnish arm Digita to Australia's Colonial First State asset manager last year.

Its French unit is the main part of the remaining business and could be worth over 4 billion euros based on current earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of 370-380 million euros and sector multiples of 10.5-11.5 times EBITDA, the sources said.

The private equity funds which bought TDF in 2006 are seen as unlikely to sell for less than 4 billion euros ($5.33 billion), the same people said.

After a successful sale of the French unit the owners are expected to sell the rest of the business, most of which is based in Germany, separate banking sources said.

"The French business is the main business and they can realize most value by selling the company off in parts, starting with France and then the rest," one of the bankers said. ($1 = 0.7508 euros)

(Reporting by Sophie Sassard and Claire Ruckin; Editing by Andrew Callus and Pravin Char)