Spanish telecom operator MasMovil agrees $3.3 billion private equity bid

MADRID (Reuters) – KKR (KKR.N), Cinven and Providence said on Monday they had made an agreed 2.96 billion euro ($3.3 billion) bid for Spanish telecoms operator MasMovil (MASM.MC).

In the first European take-private attempt by major buyout firms since the coronavirus crisis struck, the private equity trio said holders of 29.56% of MasMovil’s stock had already agreed to sell for 22.50 euros per share.

Shares in MasMovil, which was founded in 1997 and sells fixed line, mobile and Internet services, hit 22.80 euros at 1015 GMT, around 22% higher than their Friday close and making them top gainers on Spain’s main index .IBEX..

MasMovil has built up a position in the fiercely competitive Spanish market in recent years by buying Pepephone and Yoigo and the bid for it follows Telefonica’s (TEF.MC) deal to merge its British business with Liberty Global’s (LBTYA.O) Virgin Media.

European telecoms operators have struggled to boost profit growth in a crowded market and in Spain, Euskaltel (EKTL.MC) has launched a service under the Virgin brand to take on Telefonica, France’s Orange (ORAN.PA) and Britain’s Vodafone (VOD.L).

MasMovil Chief Executive Meinrad Spenger said in a statement that it had signed an agreement with the bidders on a deal which he said would be “beneficial for the shareholders and other stakeholders in the company”.

It added that the bidders have said they would maintain continuity in MasMovil’s strategy, staff and executive team.

Although the offer price is below a five-year high of 25.52 euros hit in March 2018 and 23.68 late last year, it is well above the 12.20 euros it reached in March when Spain was reporting hundreds of coronavirus deaths each day.

The bid for MasMovil is conditional on acceptance from at least 50% of shareholders, the funds said.

Morgan Stanley, Barclays and BNP Paribas guaranteed financing for the deal, the offer document said. Morgan Stanley and Barclays also advised the private equity consortium, a source close to the deal said.

($1 = 0.8977 euros)

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