Telekom Austria is reportedly back in the race to buy Serbia Broadband for as much as €1 billion ($1.33 billion), after previously dropping off the shortlist of potential candidates.
Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg reported that the operator is competing with private equity companies for the cable operator, and would have to issue shares to finance the deal.
The move would form part of efforts by Telekom Austria to shore up its mobile networks in Eastern Europe with fixed assets, in line with the general European trend also illustrated by Vodafone Germany's planned acquisition of Kabel Deutschland.
CEO Hannes Ametsreiter said in an interview with Austria newspaper Wirtschaftsblatt last month that Telekom Austria wants to become the largest player and most integrated provider of mobile and fixed services in southeast Europe.
The Austrian incumbent also recently signed an international network-sharing deal with KPN; both companies count Carlo Slim's América Móvil as a minority shareholder, and Slim has now made a €7.2 billion bid for the remaining 70 per cent stake in KPN.
Bloomberg said Providence Equity Partners, Cinven Advisers, and Altice Finco are all interested in Serbia Broadband, although none has confirmed its involvement in the talks. Spokesmen for Telekom Austria, Providence, Cinven and Altice declined to comment on the deal, the report said.
Serbia Broadband is owned by London-based private equity firm Mid Europa Partners.
- see this Bloomberg article
Carlos Slim faces first hurdle over KPN bid
Telekom Austria eyes No.1 spot in southeast Europe
Quad-play: playing the long game
Europe's M&A volume doubles in the first half of 2013
Hutchison's €1.3B Orange Austria bid faces T-Mobile challenge
Telekom Austria reports Q1 slump as consolidation fails to halt price war