But who will be buying the Yellow Pages?

Before VNU can acquire anything it will have to be sure that it can sell its world directories business, which comprises Yellow Pages businesses across seven countries – including Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Industry sources said that VNU is likely to see interest from several private equity groups, but that trade buyers would be less likely to bid for the division.

“Past experience shows that venture capitalists are the most aggressive buyers [in the sector],” said one source.

Apax Partners and Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst are expected to be interested, as are the consortium which bought Seat from Telecom Italia – BC Partners, CVC Capital Partners, Investitori Associati and Permira.

However, one industry source said that, because of the success of private equity deals in the sector, other VCs will also be interested. KKR is known to have bid for Yell when it was sold by BT, but narrowly missed out.

Yell said that it would take a look at VNU’s division, but it is thought unlikely to make a serious bid as its focus is more on the US.

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