General Views of Wharf (Holdings) Ltd. and Wheelock & Co. Properties
A woman walks past the logo for Times Square shopping mall, operated by Wharf (Holdings), in the Causeway Bay district of Hong Kong, China. Jerome Favre — Bloomberg via Getty Images/File

Private Equity Firms May Be Taking Over This Tycoon’s Telecom Business

Oct 04, 2016

Hong Kong tycoon Peter Woo's Wharf Holdings (warfy) has agreed to sell its telecom business to a consortium of private equity firms TPG Capital Management LP and MBK Partners Inc for HK$9.5 billion ($1.22 billion), a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.

The field of contenders to buy the business had narrowed to the TPG-MBK group and telecom firm HKBN Ltd after Wharf received about half a dozen final bids earlier this month. The sale comes after Wharf said in March it was conducting a strategic review of its communications, media and entertainment arm.

TPG and MBK declined to comment, while Wharf didn't immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The person familiar with the matter declined to be identified because discussions on the transaction were private.

Woo's Wharf Holdings owns marquee Hong Kong properties including the Times Square and Harbour City shopping malls. The division being sold includes Wharf T&T - the city's second-largest fixed-line operator for businesses, according to the firm's website - but it does not include television broadcaster I-Cable Communications Ltd.

Wharf T&T had its best-ever half year results, Wharf Holdings said last month. A surge in demand for its data transmission and high-speed internet service for corporate clients helped operating profit jump 24% from a year earlier to HK$214 million.

For more on the telecoms business, watch Fortune's video:

But Wharf said its communications, media and entertainment segment - comprising both Wharf T&T and I-Cable - accounted for just 9% of group revenue and 1% of operating profit.

Wharf Holdings shares have gained nearly a third since the March strategic review announcement, while shares in I-Cable have nearly doubled.

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