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Sale of Sweden's Com Hem In Doubt;Owners May Opt For IPO-Sources

By Marietta Cauchi Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES LONDON -(Dow Jones)- The private equity owners of Swedish cable operator Com Hem may pull the company's sale following the withdrawal of two buyout firms from the bidding process, people familiar with the situation told Dow Jones Newswires Tuesday. Deutsche Bank (DB) and Morgan Stanley (MS) are running the process for owners Carlyle Group and Providence Equity Partners and the sale attracted several buyout firms in the initial stages. However CVC Capital Partners and Nordic Capital withdrew from the process ahead of the second-round deadline last Thursday leaving just BC Partners and Cinven in the auction. Cinven had been planning a joint bid with Nordic Capital. All parties are now in discussions to try and secure a deal, but unless this can be done this week the owners may opt for an initial public offering after the summer, one person said. The buyout outlook has turned more uncertain as the euro-zone debt crisis weighs on private equity buyers' ability to raise acquisition finance to fund deals. Carlyle Group and Providence Equity Partners bought the Stockholm-based cable operator in January 2006 for around $1.2 billion. In June that year, the buyout duo merged the company with UPC Sweden which they bought from John Malone's Liberty Global Inc. (LBTYA) for $427 billion. Com Hem had earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or Ebitda, of 1.85 billion Swedish kronor ($294.4 million) in 2010, an increase of 13% on the previous year and boosted by a fourth-quarter rise of 32% compared with the same period in 2009. Last year, Com Hem invested SEK680 million to develop infrastructure and services and by year end had 840,600 digital TV, broadband and telephone subscribers. It is unclear exactly what value the owners put on the business, but earlier this year Swedish private equity company EQT announced the sale of German cable operator Kabel Baden-Wuerttemberg GmbH & Co. KG (KD8.XE) to Liberty Global for EUR3.16 billion, representing an Ebitda multiple of 8.1 on forecast 2011 earnings. A similar multiple on last year's Ebitda would value Com Hem at around SEK15 billion ($2.39 billion). -By Marietta Cauchi, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 207 842 9241; marietta.cauchi@dowjones.com

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