MBK in billion-dollar race for Taiwan’s China Network Systems

MBK Partners, a North Asia-focused private equity manager, is competing with Goldman Sachs, Carlyle and KKR for Taiwan’s top cable TV operator in a transaction estimated to fetch about $1.4 billion.

MBK Partners, a North Asia-focused private equity firm established by former Carlyle executives, has submitted a first-round bid for China Network Systems, a Taiwanese cable television operator.

MBK was named alongside a list of global buyout firms in a report by UK newspaer Financial Times as one of eight bidders vying for China Network Systems, a transaction estimated to be worth around $1.4 billion (€1.1bn). The other groups include Carlyle, Kravis Kohlberg Roberts, CVC Asia Pacific, TPG-Newbridge, the private equity arm of Goldman Sachs and Macquarie Bank.

MBK Partners’ participation in the auction comes soon after the close of its debut $1.56 billion fund in July. In Korea, MBK is also in another hotly-contested race, for LG Cards, a credit card company.

Morgan Stanley is arranging the sale, and is expected to shortlist six groups, which will have a month to conduct due diligence after which potential buyers will be expected to submit binding bids, according to Financial Times. Carlyle has been excluded from a short list of six leading bidders selected, according to Bloomberg which cited two unnamed sources familiar with the deal.

In June, Carlyle won regulatory approval to acquire Eastern Multimedia Company, a Taiwan cable television broadcaster for $1.5 billion.

Controlled by Taiwanese Koo’s Group, 80 percent, and Star Group, 20 percent, China Network has access to more than 1 million cable television household, the company said on its website. China Network Systems has a 26 percent market share in Taiwan, according to Financial Times. Koo’s Group is a large Taiwanese conglomerate with interests in finance, banking and manufacturing.