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One of the world’s premier directory organizations is now officially for sale. France Telecom has confirmed that it will sell its majority stake in PagesJaunes, the dominant directory publisher in France.

The Kelsey Group has long viewed PagesJaunes as an elite directory operation, with solid growth in both the core product and its online portfolio, and a strong track record of innovation in print and online. PagesJaunes has been an innovator in the use of visual content to enhance the online directory search experience, for example. And in print, PagesJaunes’ careful reconsideration of the directory navigation experience has been pursued by other publishers, notably Eniro.

France Telecom currently holds a 54 percent stake in PagesJaunes, which is publicy traded. This stake was reduced from 62 percent in 2005. France Telecom’s stake in PagesJaunes has a current market value of about 3.5 billion euros.

TKG would expect strong interest from private equity buyers. Strategic buyers may have some difficulty absorbing such a large deal, and one potential buyer, Yell Group, is diverted by its pending acquisition of Spain’s TPI.

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