PEs Lining Up for PagesJaunes

The French directory publisher PagesJaunes is, to no one’s surprise, attracting considerable interest from private equities, which have led the pack of bidders for the 54 percent stake in PagesJaunes being sold off by France Telecom. Initial bids were reportedly due this week.

Among the bidders being revealed in the European financial press are a consortium led by Apax Partners/Cinven, the Carlyle Group and the Blackstone Group. The latter bidder has weighed in on many of the major directory unit sales in recent memory, only to come out empty-handed.

So far the only corporate player to show an interest has been the French media firm Vivendi, which has received warnings from some key shareholders that they would oppose such a purchase.

One possible reason for the lack of Yellow Pages bidders is capacity, since Yell Group is in the process of buying TPI and other possible buyers may see the PJ deal as a bit too rich for their blood.

The stake in PagesJaunes is expected to command in the range of 3.5 billion euros, or US$4.4 billion.

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