New owner of Polkomtel to target Orange Poland

Polish media tycoon Zygmunt Solorz-Zak acquired Poland's second-largest mobile operator, Polkomtel, for $5.5 billion (€3.79 billion). The billionaire, who already owns TV and financial services companies, is said to be planning to use his combined assets to overtake France Telecom (FT) Orange and become the leading mobile operator in Poland.

Key to this challenge, Solorz-Zak is thought to be looking to integrate the LTE network being built by two of his companies, Aero2 and Mobyland, into the Polkomtel network. Aero2's CEO, Adam Kurianski, confirmed late last week that he will be investing 1 billion zloty (€253 million) to cover all of Poland with LTE.

Commenting on the likely outcome, Piotr Janik, an analyst at KBC Securities, told Bloomberg: "Telekomunikacja [FT Orange] and Deutsche Telekom will be left behind."

Other analysts observed that the sale price of Polkomtel, which shareholders have been trying to unload since 2003, was about right. The purchase price is 6.4 times the company's 2010 EBITDA, with other deals involving European wireless firms achieving a median multiple of 9 times in the past five years, according to Bloomberg data.

For Vodafone, which has a 24 per cent holding in the Polish operator, the sale will provide it with around $1.3 billion (€896 million) in cash and is part of the UK company's plan to remove itself from minority investments in Europe and Asia. "This seems to be a happy ending," Robin Bienenstock, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, told Bloomberg. "This would be the end of the cleanup of its portfolio."

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Reuters article
- see this Warsaw Business Journal article

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