Speculation mounts regarding Polkomtel bidders

Nordic carriers TeliaSonera and Telenor and Turkish operator Turkcell are among the shortlisted bidders for Polish operator Polokomtel, according to reports in the Polish media. Also said to be on the shortlist is a bid from Polish media mogul and Forbes rich-list regular, Zygmunt Solorz-Zak.

Solorz-Zak’s bid is rumoured to be the highest, at over $6.32bn; the lowest bid is said to have been for just under the $1bn mark. According to Dow Jones newswires, at least three of the bidders have hired investment banks as the sales process heats up.

Polkomtel, which operates as Plus in Poland, offers voice and 3G wireless services to a customer base in excess of 14 million and is owned by five shareholders, including Vodafone. The latter’s 24.4 percent stake gave it first-refusal on the remaining shares but it has been clear for some time that the UK-headquartered carrier would not be taking that option. Last year it separated its Polkomtel shareholding out from the rest of its European division, indicating that a sale was imminent.

The value of any potential Polkomtel deal has previously been estimated at $5bn, although many observers have pointed to the fragmented nature of the telco’s ownership as a potential roadblock to achieving a smooth sale.

Vodafone’s 2010 strategy of divesting and streamlining operations in order to play to regional strengths saw it offloading its 3.2 percent stake in the world’s largest carrier, China Mobile, in September last year while stakes in Verizon Wireless and French carrier SFR joined Polkomtel and Bharti Infotel outside its reformed organisational units.

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