Telenet Group Holding NV, the Belgian cable operator controlled by Liberty Global Inc., plans to buy back as much as 724 million euros ($889 million) of its own shares in an operation funded by debt and ruled out making a bid for Royal KPN NV’s Belgian mobile-phone unit.
Telenet will take on an additional 700 million euros of debt and initiate a share buyback through a voluntary tender for as much as 20.7 million shares, or 18 percent of its outstanding stock, at 35 euros apiece, the Mechelen, Belgium-based company said today in a statement.
The company said it “is not pursuing any significant acquisitions in the foreseeable future,” squashing speculation it might be a bidder for KPN’s Base unit in Belgium.
“The announcement first and foremost tackles speculation that Telenet will make an offer for Base, a dossier in which speculation momentum went crescendo ahead of last week’s deadline for non-binding offers,” said Nico Melsens, an analyst at KBC Securities in Brussels who rates the stock “hold.”
Telenet intends to increase the ratio of its total net debt to annualized earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to about 4.5, the higher end of its net leverage target of 3.5 to 4.5.
The shares rose as much as 3.2 percent in Brussels, the biggest intraday percentage gain since May 16, and traded at 35.63 euros, or 3.1 percent higher, at 10:33 a.m. local time.