(adds detail, background, subscriber numbers)
By Pamela Barbaglia
LONDON, Oct 6 (Reuters) - The owners of Polish mobile phone operator Play have called off an auction to sell the business after private equity offers failed to meet expectations.
Greek fund Tollerton and its Icelandic counterpart Novator, which own the business, received non-binding bids from a handful of private equity firms last week.
Warburg Pincus and Cinven made a joint offer with the other bidders including Blackstone and CVC Capital Partners, sources close to the matter said.
Confirming that the sale had been called off, a statement from Tollerton, which owns 50.3 percent of Play, said that the business had attracted “seven non-binding offers evaluating the company around the area of 3.5 billion euros ($3.9 billion)”.
Warburg Pincus, Cinven, CVC and Play declined to comment and officials at Novator and Blackstone were not immediately available for comment.
Play, which has 14.2 million subscribers, mainly competes against the Polish mobile network operating arms of Deutsche Telekom and France’s Orange.
The auction, led by UBS and Bank of America , began earlier this year after Tollerton and Novator started reviewing options for the business including an initial public offering (IPO). A previous plan to list the business in Warsaw fell through in 2013.
Tollerton and Novator have had full control of Play since 2008. Tollerton is controlled by Greek businessman Panos Germanos while Novator is held by Icelandic businessman Thor Bjorgolfsson.
Tollerton said the business had revenue of 5.4 billion zlotys ($1.41 billion) in 2015 and adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of 1.7 billion zlotys. ($1 = 3.8406 zlotys) ($1 = 0.8951 euros)
Additional reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko in Warsaw; Editing by Greg Mahlich and David Goodman