FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New York – June 22, 2000. The Blackstone Group announced today that it has purchased a 12.5% interest in CTI Holdings S.A., a mobile wireless service provider in Argentina, for $150 million. CTI Movil initiated cellular telephony service to all of Argentina except the Buenos Aires metropolitan area in 1994. It has the largest cellular network in Latin America based on geographic coverage, and has approximately 890,000 subscribers in its service area of 22 million people. CTI recently initiated PCS service in Buenos Aires and now provides wireless service across a nationwide footprint of approximately 35 million people. Affiliates of Blackstone Capital Partners III are acquiring the 12.5% interest in CTI from two investment partnerships and GTE Corporation. CTI’s principal shareholders include an affiliate of GTE, which manages and controls the company, and an affiliate of the Clarín media group of Argentina.
“With the initiation of service in Buenos Aires and completion of Argentina’s first truly nationwide wireless network, we believe that CTI is well-positioned to capitalize on the substantial growth of the Argentine wireless market,” commented Lawrence H. Guffey, a Senior Managing Director at The Blackstone Group who shares responsibility for the firm’s telecommunications investments. “We are pleased to be able to invest in CTI alongside GTE and the Clarín media group, continuing Blackstone’s strategy of investing in corporate partnerships.”
“We are delighted to have Blackstone invest alongside us in CTI given their long-term experience as an investor in mobile wireless businesses and in Latin America,” said Fares Salloum, Senior Vice President of International Operations at GTE.
CTI is Blackstone’s fourth major investment in the Latin American telecommunications sector and the most recent example of the firm’s commitment to the region. Blackstone invested $100 million in Iusacell, a Mexican cellular operator and an affiliate of Bell Atlantic Corporation, in 1993 (and has since exited that investment). Last year, Blackstone was part of a consortium of investors that provided over $100 million to Universo Online (UOL), a Brazilian Internet Service Provider (ISP) and e-commerce company, to fund the roll-out of its pan-Latin strategy. Earlier this year, Blackstone committed $75 million of equity capital to Telefonia Inalambrica del Norte (Axtel), a Mexican facilities-based competitive local exchange carrier, to fund the development and rollout of its wireless local loop and broadband fixed wireless networks.
The individuals at Blackstone who are directly involved in the CTI investment and the firm’s ongoing investment activities in Latin America are Lawrence H. Guffey (212-583-5867) and David I. Foley (212-583-5832).
The Blackstone Group is a private investment bank based in New York City. It was founded in 1985 by its Chairman, Peter G. Peterson, and its President and CEO, Stephen A. Schwarzman. Blackstone is a leader in private equity investing, and is currently in the process of investing its Blackstone Capital Partners III fund, which represents approximately $4 billion of equity capital. Blackstone is a leader in private equity investments in communications businesses. Blackstone has made 27 communications investments, including four in Latin America. Blackstone’s communications investing is led by Mark T. Gallogly and Lawrence H. Guffey. The Blackstone Group is also engaged in five other business areas including Mergers and Acquisitions Advisory, Restructuring and Reorganization Advisory, Private Equity Real Estate Investing, Private Mezzanine Investing, and Liquid Alternative Asset Investing.