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Blackstone, Apax Eye Weather Investments Stake: WSJ

Blackstone Group and Apax Partners Worldwide are front-runners to buy a minority stake in Weather Investments SpA, a telecom holding company controlled by Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The purchase price could total 1.2 billion euros (US$1.7 billion), the Journal said, citing people close to the talks. Other possible buyers include TPG Capital, the sources said.

Sawiris in an interview told the paper he had planned to take his company public, but now was more inclined to sell a 10% to 12% stake.

A sale, which could value Weather at more than 10 billion euros, could happen as early as the next few weeks, he said. Proceeds could be used to pay down debt or for new acquisitions, he said in the Journal interview.

One business in his sights is France's Bouygues Telecom, part of the Bouygues group, the paper said.

Weather owns Italy's Wind Telecomunicazioni, Greek wireless operator Wind Hellas Telecommunications, and a 51% stake in Orascom Telecom Holding, the Middle East and Africa's largest telecom company by customers.