Telenor entered talks to sell its operations across three markets in southeast Europe to a US investment fund for €2 billion, Bulgarian business newspaper Capital reported.
Quoting sources from research company Mergermarket, the publication said the deal would likely comprise Telenor’s units in Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro, but could be expanded to include its operations in Hungary.
The potential buyer is said to be US-headquartered investment company KKR, which had been linked with a bid for Telenor Serbia in June 2017. Rumours the company was set to sell its Serbia unit were quickly rebuffed by CEO Sigve Brekke (pictured), who denied any of its units in the region were for sale.
Telenor is the second-largest operator by connections in Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary: GSMA Q4 2017 estimates show the operator had between 3 million and 3.5 million connections in each market. It is the largest operator in the smaller market of Montenegro with 376,000 connections.
The company entered the Bulgarian market in 2013 with the acquisition of Globul for €717 million. Telenor also bought operators in Serbia, Hungary and Montenegro between 2004 and 2006.
A potential sale would fit with Telenor’s fundraising and cost-cutting strategy, which have already led to efficiency savings across its operations and the disposal of assets in an attempt to return it to being a “growth company”.