By Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro, Amy-Jo Crowley and Andres Gonzalez
LONDON (Reuters) -Denmark's largest telecoms company TDC Holding A/S has hired LionTree to help it explore strategic options for the business as consolidation in the Danish telecom market accelerates, two people familiar with the situation told Reuters.
The group, which is 50% owned by Australia's Macquarie, is conducting a strategic analysis of the business and the Danish market, said one of the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
TDC declined to comment. Deliberations are at an early stage as the company is not currently actively in any sale process, and there is no certainty that any transaction will take place, one of the people cautioned.
The move follows consolidation in the region, with electricity and internet provider Norlys buying Swedish telecoms operator Telia's Danish operations earlier this year.
It comes five years after TDC was taken private by a Macquarie-led investor consortium which includes Danish investors Arbejdsmarkedets Tillægspension (ATP), PFA Asset Management and AIP Management.
TDC, which was founded in the 19th century, split its operations into two companies after agreeing to the takeover, with TDC Net owning its network infrastructure and Nuuday its consumer brands.
Since then TDC Holdings has seen a fall-off in performance. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell to 6,290 million Danish crowns ($894.89 million) in 2022, down 3.4% since 2019.
Credit rating agency Fitch stated in May that although TDC Net benefits from the company's entrenched position within the Danish telecom market, high leverage and weak free cash flow constraints are affecting the rating.
Other European telecoms groups have in recent years offloaded assets in a bid to strengthen their balance sheets.
Vodafone, Telefonica, and Deutsche Telekom have all sold stakes in their telecom towers businesses to cut debt, unlock value, and free up cash for investments in their core operations.
($1 = 0.9409 euros)
($1 = 7.0288 Danish crowns)
(Reporting by Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro, Amy-Jo Crowley and Andres Gonzalez; Additional reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm; Editing by Anousha Sakoui, Louise Heavens and Jan Harvey)