How the Helio Buyout Process Went: Virgin Mobile Wanted To Bring In a Retail and Financial Investor

Virgin Mobile USA bought Helio earlier this year, for a paltry $39 million in equity and getting $50 million in investment from British parent Virgin Group and SK Telecom (NYSE: SKM). That we reported on in detail at that time. Now finally, VMUSA has filed details of how the sale process started and the proceedings during the negotiations, in an SEC proxy filing earlier today.

The process started in January this year, when SKT and Earthlink (NSDQ: ELNK), the join owner of Helio, contacted Virgin Mobile USA (NYSE: VM). As the talks progressed, Virgin wanted to bring in one of its major retail partners as an investors, and though it does not disclose the name of the retail partner it considered, it is one of Best Buy, RadioShack, Target, or Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), and my guess is Best Buy, only because it is known for investing in such ventures, as it did with Amp’d Mobile. It also wanted to bring in a financial investor. Those plans fell by the wayside during the talks, and the final structure was hammered out and announced on June 27th.

And interesting aside: Virgin had Bear Stearns as its banker first, but as the big bank fell to the credit crisis, it had to scramble to retain Deutsche Bank midway through the process. Montgomery & Co. was the banker for Helio, SK Telecom and EarthLink combine.

The relevant portion of the filing is pasted after the jump

Background of the Transaction
In January 2008, representatives of SK Telecom and EarthLink contacted Dan Schulman, the Company