Banks appointed to explore CETIN listing

17 February 2021 | Melanie Mingas

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PPF Group NV has appointed banks BNP Paribas, Morgan Stanley and Societe Generale to explore a potential IPO of its telecoms division.

PPF is owned by Czech billionaire Petr Kellner and its telecoms division CETIN owns and operates the largest telecom network in the Czech republic, with a modernisation project completed last year.

It's coverage extends to 99.6% of the population with a mix of mobile GSM, UMTS, LTE and CDMA technologies using almost 6,000 base stations, as well as fixed SDH, WDM, Ethernet and IP technologies, and 45,000 km of fibre optic cables.

Breaking the IPO news yesterday, Bloomberg reported a listing could value CETIN at US$4.8 billion.

Bloomberg's sources, who were not named, said that "no final decisions" have been made on the IPO and that "there’s no certainty the deliberations will lead to a transaction". It also reported that conversations around an IPO "did not mean PPF was exiting the telecommunications business".

Whether it's an IPO or another means, PPF's statement did not deny that it is assessing multiple options.

It read: "We can confirm PPF is considering an IPO as one of the options for CETIN.

"IPO considerations did not mean PPF was exiting the telecommunications business, We consider (our) investment into CETIN as long-term and strategic," the statement continued.

Elsewhere in the empire, August saw retail and infrastructure activities separated at three of PPF's Telenor-branded mobile operators in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Serbia. Along with the establishment of CETIN Bulgaria, CETIN Hungary, and CETIN Serbia, this led to the formation of CETIN Group. Along with CETIN in the Czech Republic the entities form what PPF called "the telecommunication infrastructure backbone" of the group.

CEO Martin Škop was appointed to head CETIN in September as part of a management shakeup that saw former CEO Juraj Šedivý drop his CEO role to "fully concentrate on the management and operations of CETIN Group in the CEE region". Šedivý continues to hold the position of chair of the board of directors.

CETIN's 2020 financial results are due over the coming weeks and the firm said at the end of January that it expects revenues and margin to hold at similar levels to the previous year.