Private equity firms circle T-Mobile NL

At least five private equity firms including Warburg Pincus, Apax and CVC are said to be interested in bidding for Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile Netherlands business, Reuters reported.

Citing unnamed sources, the news agency said U.S.-based Warburg Pincus is the latest to join the fray and is reportedly working on the deal with former Deutsche Telekom CEO René Obermann, who also headed up Dutch cable operator Ziggo before it was acquired by Liberty Global.

Reuters previously reported that Deutsche Telekom hired Credit Suisse to advise on options for its T-Mobile Netherlands unit. It has since said that the company expects to receive non-binding offers by Nov. 16.

Liberty Global has been cited as another potential buyer of the mobile unit, although one source told Reuters that the group would probably have made a move already if it intended to buy.

The Dutch business is one of the few remaining mobile-only operations in the Deutsche Telekom group, and faces mounting competition from KPN, Vodafone Netherlands and Ziggo, which each offer converged fixed-mobile services.

The Dutch market also recently gained its fourth 4G player after Tele2 Netherlands launched its LTE Advanced network, marking the company's shift from MVNO to MNO. The company aims to offer nationwide LTE-A coverage by the end of the first quarter in 2016 and said the network delivers maximum data rates of up to 225 Mbps.

Meanwhile KPN CEO Eelco Blok told Reuters that the operator is open to merger opportunities outside its domestic market.

Speaking to Reuters at the Morgan Stanley technology and media conference in Barcelona this week, Blok played down the potential growing competitive threat from rivals such as Tele2 and Ziggo, but said KPN would in theory be open to "cross-border consolidation."

"When somebody wants to have discussions with us, we will be open for a discussion," Blok said. "But so far nobody knocks on our door."

KPN has largely sold off its international businesses. It has also agreed to sell its Base Belgium unit to Liberty Global's Telenet, although that deal is now the subject of an in-depth probe by the European Commission.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this separate Reuters article

Related articles:
Tele2 Netherlands seeks to drown subscribers with LTE data deluge
Will pure-play mobile have a role in Europe?
Deutsche Telekom nears 1.5M quad-play users
Deutsche Telekom extends 'Magenta One' quad-play strategy to Hungary
EC opens in-depth probe into Liberty Global's planned Base Belgium buy

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