Saturday, December 22, 2007

Blackstone honcho outlines what could be

I had an opportunity to do a phone interview on December 20 with Walid Kamhavi, a Blackstone managing director (they have many) connected with the foundering management buy-out of Lattelecom
The odd part is that I published a complete translated transcript of the interview on my Latvian-language blog(can be found through  almost immediately --I simultaneously translated and transcribed. But I am not really up for listening to the whole thing again (unfortunately, I leapfrogged to videoblogging, skipping podcasting along the way).
So here are the main points:
--Blackstone can offer many synergies to Lattelecom, since it hold stakes in several telecoms companies (Deutsche Telekom, TDC) and telecoms related companies (some wireless and cable outfits listed on their home page). It can also offer economies of scale in certain kinds of purchasing and sophisticated financial advice and contacts should Lattelecom or any of its subsidiaries want to tap the capital markets. 
--Blackstone is partnering with the present management of Lattelecom (Nils Melngailis) and any change would mean a review of their commitment.
--at some point, the passage of time will erode the anticipated benefits to all parties to the proposed deal (a nice way of saying -- delay long enough, and the thing will fall apart, which I believe is exactly what the Latvian government wants to happen).
--should the deal go through, Blackstone does have an exit strategy, but this is a long-term project that would involve growing the value of Lattelecom with the engagement described above. The eventual divestment could be within the telco industry, as a merger or consolidation (again, presumably in telecoms), or to new financial investors (another Blackstone-type outfit).
All in all, it was a fair view and shows that contrary to the hallucinations of some Latvian commentators, Walid and his team are not George Soros' handpuppets nor mere speculators tossing their telecom roulette chips on the table and standing back to wait for a win. 
Alas, I view Hell as a place where journalists spend eternity transcribing interview recordings, so I probably won't do the English-original version unless the Christmas spirit and long Christmas holidays take their toll. 
The reason I rushed to do the Latvian-translated version was that I saw the Dienas bizness (my former workplace) journalist come in after me (at the Lattelecom office) to do her phone interview and presumed they would put something on their website immediately. They did, but it was a rehash of my Latvian blog. The article with some different nuances, was published the next day.

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