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Sale of Wharf’s HK Telecom Unit Could Reportedly Fetch Up to $1.2 Billion

September 7, 2016

General Views of Wharf (Holdings) Ltd. and Wheelock & Co. PropertiesGeneral 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

KKR & Co LP (KKR) and HKBN have placed final bids for the Hong Kong telecom arm of Wharf Holdings, (WARFY) in a deal likely to fetch $1 billion to $1.2 billion, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

MBK Partners and TPG Capital Management LP have also made a joint bid for Wharf T&T, which has also drawn a bid from SmarTone Telecommunications Holdings, (STTFY) these people said.

Last year, Wharf T&T generated about $100 million in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), the people said.

Three more suitors submitted bids last week, said one of the sources, who declined to be identified as they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

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Two of the people said the auction front-runner was telecom firm HKBN, whose biggest shareholder is Canadian pension fund CPPIB. But HKBN would face antitrust scrutiny as well as a shareholder vote on the deal due to the size of the target asset, rending its bid uncertain, they said.

KKR, HKBN, MBK, TPG and Wharf declined to comment. SmarTone did not provide an immediate comment.

Wharf Holdings, backed by Hong Kong tycoon Peter Woo, owns Hong Kong marquee properties including the Times Square and Harbor City shopping malls. Last year, it launched a strategic review of its communications, media and entertainment division.

The division includes Wharf T&T – Hong Kong’s second-largest business fixed-line operator, according to the firm’s website – and television broadcaster I-Cable Communications (ICABY).

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Some bidders have also made offers to buy I-Cable, though it was unclear whether Wharf would sell the money-losing broadcaster, the people said.