Private equity-backed Télédiffusion de France SA, an operator of European broadcast towers, agreed Monday, Aug. 6, to sell its Finnish operation, Digita Oy, to the overseas investment unit of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia Ltd., marking the Australian bank's first venture into European telecommunications infrastructure.
Digita has been on the block since the end of last year as part of a wider plan to offload TDF operations in peripheral markets to free cash for investment in its core regions. No price was given for the deal, though earlier reports had suggested that Digita might be valued at about €400 million ($496 million).
"This divestiture is in line with TDF's strategy to focus on France and Germany, its two largest core markets, and develop its Media Services Business unit," TDF chief executive Olivier Huart said.
Helsinki-based Digita owns and operates 36 broadcasting stations that provide wireless data transfer for television, radio and telecommunications to all of Finland. It posted sales worth €91 million last year, equal to about 6% of TDF's total sales, according to the TDF website.
Montrouge, France-based TDF is 42%-owned by TPG Capital, which bought its stake in October 2006 as part of an estimated €3.3 billion joint investment with AXA Private Equity. Paris-based AXA PE owns 18% of TDF, Charterhouse Capital Partners LLP owns 14%, France's state-backed Fonds Stratégique d'Investissement owns 24% and management owns the remaining 2%.
The French state and Charterhouse had previously owned 64% of TDF, which they bought from France Télécom SA for €1.65 billion in 2002.
Digita will be owned by First State European Diversified Infrastructure Fund, or FCP-SIF, the European Infrastructure fund of First State Investments, which is in turn the international arm of Colonial First State Global Asset Management, the asset management arm of Commonwealth Bank. First State Investments manages more than €2 billion of infrastructure assets in Australasia and Europe. In Europe, its other investments include Anglian Water Group, a U.K. regulated water and wastewater businesses, and Electricity North West, a U.K. electricity distributor.