July 2, 2013 / 5:03 PM / 6 years ago

Exclusive: Carlyle's CommScope explores IPO after $3.9 billion buyout

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Carlyle Group LP (CG.O) is weighing an initial public offering of CommScope Holding Company Inc, a telecommunications equipment provider it took private for $3.9 billion less than three years ago, two people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

A general view of the lobby outside of the Carlyle Group offices in Washington, May 3, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The private equity firm is speaking to investment banks about possibly listing CommScope as soon as this year depending on market conditions, the people said.

Carlyle has yet to hire underwriters to handle the proposed offering, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is not public.

Carlyle declined to comment and CommScope spokespeople did not respond to a request for comment.

The stock market’s strong performance this year has emboldened private equity firms such as Carlyle, which buy companies with an eye to selling them at a big profit, to take their portfolio companies public.

Washington D.C.-based Carlyle took CommScope private in January 2011, in a deal valued at $3.9 billion, including debt.

Hickory, North Carolina-based CommScope is a major manufacturer of cables that underpin high-speed data networks. It traces its roots to Superior Cable Corporation, a telephone cable company created in 1953, and changed ownership several times until it went public in 1997.

Moody’s Investor Service Inc said in May it expected CommScope to show modest growth over the next twelve months, driven by wireless carriers spending on infrastructure. Revenues are expected to organically grow at 2 percent to 4 percent on average over the next several years, it added.

The company had revenues of over $3 billion in the 12 months ending March 2013, according to Moody’s.

In May, CommScope issued $550 million of payment-in-kind (PIK) notes that allow the company to pay interest payments to bondholders in more bonds rather than cash, according to Thomson Reuters IFR. The proceeds were used to pay Carlyle a dividend as well as to fund CommScope’s activities.

JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), Deutsche Bank AG (DBKGn.DE), and Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) led the debt deal for CommScope in May, according to IFR, indicating their familiarity with the company. JPMorgan also advised Carlyle on the acquisition of CommScope.

Other private equity firms are also exploring IPOs in companies that they invested in relatively recently.

EP Energy LLC is also talking with banks about an IPO this year, people familiar with the matter told Reuters last week. The oil and gas company was acquired just last year by a consortium led by Apollo Global Management LLC (APO.N) for $7.15 billion in the largest U.S. leveraged buyout of 2012.

However, concerns that U.S. interest rates could rise may complicate IPO plans for some private equity firms.

For example, industrial and construction supplies company HD Supply Holdings Inc (HDS.O), which counts Carlyle among its private equity investors, priced its IPO last week well below its expected range.

(This version of the story adds dropped word “as” in the second paragraph.)

Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis and Soyoung Kim in New York

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