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Leading equity firm to invest $200m into Volia Cable
by Mark Rachkevych, Kyiv Post Staff Writer
Dec 05 2007, 23:58

Global private equity firm announced it inked agreement to purchase stake in Ukraine’s leading cable TV and broadband Internet provider
The world’s leading media and communications private equity firm announced on Dec. 3 it inked an agreement to purchase “a significant stake” in Ukraine’s leading cable TV and broadband Internet provider, without disclosing the equity percentage targeted.

The investment by Rhode Island-based Providence Equity Partners into Kyiv’s Volia Cable marks the arrival of a leading equity firm onto the Ukrainian market and illustrates the continued interest of Western investors in Ukrainian companies.

Volia was set up by the SigmaBleyzer equity investment firm, founded by Michael Bleyzer, a Ukrainian-born emigre who held top positions in Western multinationals before returning to Ukraine.

In a statement, Providence only said that it would invest more than $200 million into Volia. But neither company, nor advisors involved in the deal, including Goldman Sachs International and UBS Investment Bank who acted as financial advisors to SigmaBleyzer, would disclose the percentage of equity acquired.

“Providence bought a controlling stake in Volia, having offered better overall terms than large strategic investors viewing the purchase,” commented Andriy Boyechko, managing partner of Capital Strategy, a strategy advisory and investment banking firm in Kyiv.

On Nov. 30, Ukraine’s Anti-Monopoly Committee announced it would permit the acquisition of a majority stake in Volia in four cities.

Controlled by a SigmaBleyzer-managed private equity fund, Volia connects more than 900,000 homes. Most clients are located in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, where the company built a broadband network from scratch.

Volia has recently expanded into Lviv, Alchevsk, and Chernivtsi, providing services such as analog cable TV, digital cable TV, high-speed cable Internet access, VoIP and data services.

Analysts predict Volia Cable will use the investment from Providence to further expand in the regions and solidify its market share.

Experts said competition will heat up in the near future, coming mostly from companies using Ethernet-based fiber networks. Volia Cable was initially created through the consolidation of three separate cable companies acquired in 1999 and 2000.