* Telecom firm HKBN was last remaining rival bidder
* Sale comes after Wharf launched operations review
* Sale includes Wharf T&T, but not broadcaster I-Cable
(Adds company's statement)
By Denny Thomas
HONG KONG, Oct 4 Hong Kong tycoon Peter Woo's
Wharf Holdings Ltd has agreed to sell its telecom
business to a consortium of private equity firms TPG Capital
Management LP and MBK Partners Inc for HK$9.5 billion ($1.22
billion), the company said on Tuesday.
Reuters earlier reported the sale of the business, Wharf T&T
- the city's second-largest fixed-line operator for businesses,
according to the firm's website.
Wharf said in March it was conducting a strategic review of
its communications, media and entertainment arm to focus on its
main property development and investment businesses.
Wharf owns marquee Hong Kong properties including the Times
Square and Harbour City shopping malls.
Tuesday's sale does not include television broadcaster
i-Cable Communications Ltd, which is also part of the
communications, media and entertainment business. Wharf said a
strategic review of i-Cable was not completed.
"We are very impressed with Wharf T&T's successful track
record of establishing a client base of over 50,000 enterprises
in Hong Kong and of building a leading ubiquitous fiber
network," Teck Chien Kong, partner, MBK Partners said. (bit.ly/2dcvm1H)
MBK Partners, run by former Carlyle Group executive Michael
Kim, has a long track record of investing in Asian technology,
media and telecommunications assets, including Taiwanese network
TV operator China Network Systems, cable television network Gala
TV and Japanese software maker Yayoi.
TPG has also invested in a wide range of telecom companies
in Asia, including telecommunications service provider Asia
Netcom (now known as Pacnet) and Japan Telecom (now known as
The field of contenders to buy the telecom business had
narrowed to the TPG-MBK group and telecom firm HKBN Ltd
Wharf T&T had its best-ever half year results, Wharf
Holdings said last month. A surge in demand for its data
transmission and high-speed internet service for corporate
clients helped operating profit jump 24 percent to HK$214
million from a year earlier.
Wharf said its communications, media and entertainment
segment accounted for just 9 percent of group revenue and 1
percent of operating profit.
Wharf Holdings shares have gained nearly a third since the
March strategic review announcement, while shares in I-Cable
have nearly doubled.
The deal is expected to close in November. Goldman Sachs
(Asia) LLC advised Wharf.
($1 = 7.7557 Hong Kong dollars)
(Reporting by Denny Thomas; Additional reporting by Elzio
Barreto in Hong Kong and Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by