(adds detail, background, subscriber numbers)
By Pamela Barbaglia
LONDON Oct 6 The owners of Polish mobile phone
operator Play have called off an auction to sell the business
after private equity offers failed to meet expectations.
Greek fund Tollerton and its Icelandic counterpart Novator,
which own the business, received non-binding bids from a handful
of private equity firms last week.
Warburg Pincus and Cinven made a joint offer with
the other bidders including Blackstone and CVC Capital
Partners, sources close to the matter said.
Confirming that the sale had been called off, a statement
from Tollerton, which owns 50.3 percent of Play, said that the
business had attracted "seven non-binding offers evaluating the
company around the area of 3.5 billion euros ($3.9 billion)".
Warburg Pincus, Cinven, CVC and Play declined to comment and
officials at Novator and Blackstone were not immediately
available for comment.
Play, which has 14.2 million subscribers, mainly competes
against the Polish mobile network operating arms of Deutsche
Telekom and France's Orange.
The auction, led by UBS and Bank of America
, began earlier this year after Tollerton and Novator
started reviewing options for the business including an initial
public offering (IPO). A previous plan to list the business in
Warsaw fell through in 2013.
Tollerton and Novator have had full control of Play since
2008. Tollerton is controlled by Greek businessman Panos
Germanos while Novator is held by Icelandic businessman Thor
Tollerton said the business had revenue of 5.4 billion
zlotys ($1.41 billion) in 2015 and adjusted earnings before
interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of 1.7
($1 = 3.8406 zlotys)
($1 = 0.8951 euros)
(Additional reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko in Warsaw; Editing
by Greg Mahlich and David Goodman)