(Bloomberg) -- United Group BV’s private equity backer has asked for non-binding bids in July for the eastern European carrier, people with knowledge of the matter said. 

Apax Partners and Warburg Pincus are in the early stages of considering potential bids for part or all of United Group, which is controlled by BC Partners, the people said. They would compete with Emirates Telecommunications Group Co. and Saudi Telecom Co., which have separately been exploring offers, according to the people.

Orange SA, Telekom Austria AG and French telecom billionaire Xavier Niel’s Iliad SA are also among potential buyers that have been approached, some of the people said. BC Partners may seek a valuation of about €8 billion ($8.6 billion) including debt for the business, the people said. 

Some suitors could end up bidding for some of United Group’s assets in individual markets, the people said. Deliberations are at an early stage, and there’s no certainty of who will proceed with proposals. 

Representatives for Apax, BC Partners, Iliad, Orange and Warburg Pincus declined to comment. Saudi Telecom, Telekom Austria and Emirates Telecom — known as E& — didn’t immediately respond to queries or couldn’t immediately comment.

United Group has operations in countries including Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro, according to its website. It has also expanded into European Union members such as Bulgaria and Greece. 

BC Partners acquired United Group in 2019 from private equity firm KKR & Co. Last year, Saudi Telecom’s Tawal infrastructure arm agreed to buy a portfolio of tower assets from United Group for €1.22 billion.

Meanwhile, Iliad bought UPC Poland from Liberty Global Plc for an enterprise value of about 7 billion zloty ($1.8 billion) in 2021, expanding in the region. E& also agreed last year to acquire a controlling stake in PPF Telecom Group’s assets in Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia and Slovakia.

--With assistance from Dinesh Nair, Benoit Berthelot, Nicolas Parasie and Jillian Deutsch.

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