According to various reports, one of the bigger European competitive fiber assets known to be for sale no longer is. GTS Central Europe has taken itself off the table, and its private equity backers are now looking at making some balance sheet moves instead. But that’s clearly just an interim step.
GTS’s extensive metro and intercity fiber footprint in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, and Romania was said to be of interest to Deutsche Telekom, Netia, Level 3 Communications, and Turk Telekom amongst others. However interest doesn’t imply agreement on price, and it appears nobody was willing to pay the asking price at this time.
European consolidation is a rather more difficult task than what we have seen in the US. The market is more fractured due to all the borders, differing regulations, languages, etc. That makes it difficult to operate in a centralized fashion, as the balance is even more heavily weighted toward local knowledge. Therefore the likely candidates are quite cautious about attempting the sort of roll-ups we’ve seen on this side of the Atlantic.
Given that, it could be that we see the various private equity groups take a more indirect approach. Rather than look to sell to the larger but reluctant telecommunications operators right now, they could choose to team up. For instance, the footprints of GTS, euNetworks, and Zayo would fit together quite nicely if the money guys were to decide to make it happen, and there are other combinations involving European fiber in private equity hands that could work just as well.
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