Sunrise plans €1.1B IPO on Swiss bourse

Switzerland-based Sunrise Communications plans to list its shares on the SIX Swiss Exchange in the first half of 2015 in order to raise around CHF1.35 billion (€1.12 billion/$1.3 billion) to "substantially strengthen" its balance sheet and exploit future growth opportunities.

The company, which is owned by private equity firm CVC, said shares would be listed in the newly incorporated holding company Sunrise Communications Group AG.

The IPO announcement, which comes only weeks after France-based Iliad founder Xavier Niel agreed to buy Orange Switzerland for CHF2.8 billion, appears to indicate a repositioning of the company as it seeks to better compete with market leader Swisscom.

Sunrise said the planned IPO demonstrates its long-term commitment to the Swiss market and will support its corporate strategy of investing in integrated mobile and fixed network technology.

Commenting on the planned IPO, CEO Libor Voncina said: "I am enthusiastic about the prospect of welcoming public shareholders into the Sunrise family and enabling them to invest in the largest fully integrated challenger in the Swiss telecommunications market. The planned IPO will underpin the execution of our strategy and facilitate our ongoing investments into technology, customer care and network to continue the improvement of customer experience and service quality for our valued Swiss customers."

Sunrise is the second-largest operator in Switzerland after Swisscom, with revenue of CHF2 billion and EBITDA of CHF621 million for the 12 months to the end of September 2014. The company has over 3.3 million customers and provides mobile voice and data services, fixed voice, fixed internet and IPTV services.

The company has been investing heavily in its network in recent years: in the three years to the end of 2014, it invested more than CHF1 billion. It operates an LTE network with population coverage of more than 85 per cent, and also functions as an alternative fixed operator to Swisscom.

Orange Switzerland, which reported 2.1 million customers after the first nine months of 2014, is the third and smallest mobile operator on the market. Previous efforts to merge Orange Switzerland with Sunrise failed in 2010 due to regulatory resistance. It remains to be seen whether or not Niel will make a further merger attempt.

For more:
- see this Sunrise release

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