Liberty Global Inc., the John Malone-led cable-TV company operating outside the U.S., predicts regulators will eventually clear the way for more cable acquisitions in Germany.
While antitrust authorities “aren’t ready” yet for additional mergers after Liberty Global’s 3.16 billion-euro ($4 billion) takeover of Kabel Baden-Wuerttemberg last year, “these things evolve,” Chief Financial Officer Charles Bracken said today at an investor conference in Barcelona organized by Morgan Stanley.
“The benchmark for us in the rest of Europe was to have these national cable champions,” he said. “I see no reason why Germany in the long term shouldn’t end up with the same” structure as other countries.
Liberty Global gets about 70 percent of its revenue from Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Belgium. As a condition for approving the KabelBW deal, Germany’s Federal Cartel Office forced the Englewood, Colorado-based company to make concessions including removing basic encryption of digital free-to-air TV programs as well as enabling competitors to bid on contracts with housing associations.
Germany’s largest cable operator is Kabel Deutschland Holding AG. The country’s cable companies compete for clients with former phone monopoly Deutsche Telekom AG.
Liberty Global won’t raise its 35-euro per share offer to gain full control of Belgium’s Telenet Group Holding NV, the CFO said. Liberty Global passed on multiple opportunities to acquire Ziggo NV, the Dutch rival that sold shares in an initial public offering this year, he said.
Telenet fell 0.3 percent to 35.41 euros at the close of trading in Brussels today, giving the company a market value of 4 billion euros.