ONO board backs IPO plan despite Vodafone rumours

Spanish operator ONO’s board of directors have backed plans to take the company public, despite reports of a takeover approach from Vodafone.

In a statement, following a board meeting at the company’s headquarters in Madrid yesterday, ONO said that no proposals related to an acquisition of the firm were presented or discussed.

Instead, it said the board endorsed management steps “required for a possible stock market listing of the company”.

ONO said that it will hold an annual general shareholders meeting on March 13 to seek formal approval for the stock market floatation.

Terms of the planned IPO were not disclosed, though Bloomberg reported it would likely be in the range of €7 billion (US$9.54 bilion) to €8 billion, based around the price Liberty Global recently agreed to pay for Dutch cable operator Ziggo.

This stock and cash deal will see Liberty offer roughly €34.53 per Ziggo share, valuing Ziggo at roughly €10 billion.

Spanish daily LaVanguardia added that the IPO would likely fall in the first half of this year and that plans were already well advanced.

The news comes just days after mobile telecom giant Vodafone reportedly tabled a €6.9 billion bid for ONO.
That offer reportedly included ONO’s €3.42 billion of debt, leaving about €3.48 billion for the company’s private equity majority owners – CCMP Capital, Providence Equity Partners, Thomas H Lee and Quadrangle – who together control 54% of ONO’s capital.

However, according to Spanish newspaper Expansión, citing sources close to the process, ONO’s owners considered that an alternative IPO could offer better value.

The news comes as ONO reported solid year-end operational results, adding 65,000 TiVo customers in the last quarter of 2013 to take its total to reach 323,000 active users of the advanced TV service.

The strong growth means that 40% of ONO TV customers now use the TiVo service.

ONO added 7,000 new customers in the last quarter to reach a total of 1.868 million.

The company added 9,000 broadband customers taking its broadband base to 1.531 million. ONO also sold 183,000 new mobile lines, taking its total to 1.085 million.

In total, the cable operator had 5.234 million revenue generating units at the end of the year.
Churn improved by two points, closing theyear at 20%.

Commenting on ONO’s full-year results, CEO Rosalía Portela said: “We are delighted with this positive trend in our operating data, reaching record numbers in the last quarter of the year. The company is totally focused on consolidating its strong market position, we continue to outperform in terms of user satisfaction and offer consumers the highest-quality, fastest and most innovative services via our fibre network.”

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