CWC rings the changes in sale of Monaco arm

CABLE & Wireless Communications (CWC) has agreed to sell its operations in Monaco and a number of island nations for a sum of up to $1.025bn (£638m).

The sale to Bahraini telecoms firm Batelco frees CWC from control of a range of dispersed assets in Monaco, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and a number of former British island colonies. It will first sell its Islands business and a 25 per cent stake in its Monaco operations for $680m, before selling off its remaining assets in Monaco, pending regulatory approval, for $345m.

The sale comes as CWC focuses on building its telecoms presence in the fast-growing Latin American and Caribbean regions. The FTSE 250 company is also in advanced talks to sell its business in Macau, which would leave it with just its Caribbean and Panama divisions.

Chief executive Tony Rice said yesterday that he would use part of the money to pay down the firm’s debts from the current $1.6bn to $937m, although there is still plenty of money for expansion, “particularly in Spanish-speaking markets north of Panama up to the Mexican border”.

Shares in CWC rose 1.15 per cent yesterday, as analysts hailed a clean disposal of a diverse group of assets. “A deal like this has been perceived as difficult to execute due to the geographic spread of the assets and the requirement to try and align eleven different governments,” Espirito Santo’s Nick Brown said.

ADVISERS CWC’S MONACO SALE

ANDRE SOKOL
AKIRA PARTNERS

ANDRE Sokol, a founding partner at boutique tech, media and telecoms bank Akira Partners, advised Cable & Wireless Communications on the sale of its Monaco & Islands business, in one of few deals to bring the low-profile bank into the public eye. Sokol set up Akira Partners in 2007 after a position as director of mergers and acquisitions at Vodafone, where he oversaw more than $33bn (£20.5bn) of spending. Before that, Sokol was a managing director at UBS. Fellow Akira Partners banker Matthias Uepping also worked on the deal.

Also on CWC’s side of the deal was JP Morgan Cazenove’s head of M&A Dwayne Lysaght, who had advised News Corp on its aborted bid for BSkyB. Lysaght headed up a team that also included managing director Rupert Sadler, who previously worked at NM Rothschild & Sons.

Batelco’s lead advisers on the deal were independent investment bank Houlihan Lokey in tandem with Citigroup. Head of EMEA in media and telecoms Toby Pearce lead Houlihan Lokey’s team in London, accompanied by M&A managing director David Sola. Pearce, who previously worked for Rothschild and HSBC. Recent work includes advising international mobile network Vanco on a sale to Reliance.