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Buyout, Trade Buyers Bid For France Telecom's Swiss Unit - Sources

By Marietta Cauchi Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES LONDON -(Dow Jones)- France Telecom (FTE) received up to 10 first-round round bids in the sale of its Swiss business, Orange Switzerland, by Monday's deadline, people familiar with the situation told Dow Jones Newswires on Wednesday. Private-equity firms including Apax Partners, Carlyle Group, Providence Equity Partners and Advent International Corp. were expected to bid alongside telecoms players, including Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris and John Malone's Liberty Global Inc. (LBTYA). Other potential buyers include EQT and Bain Capital. The sale is being run by Lazard Ltd. (LAZ) and Perella Weinberg Partners who will now assess the bids with France Telecom before shortlisting bidders for the second round. France Telecom is hoping to get between EUR1.5 billion and EUR2 billion for the business, but that may be more difficult than anticipated in particular for buyout bidders because of the limited amount of debt available to finance deals. France Telecom launched the sale process of Orange Switzerland as part of a strategic review of its business as the telecoms group is looking to lead its business back to sustained growth in a struggling industry. The group aims to seal a deal by the end of the year. -By Marietta Cauchi, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 207 842 9241; marietta.cauchi@dowjones.com

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