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Malone’s Liberty Global Said Approaching Ziggo Agreement

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A Logo Sits Above the Entrance to a Ziggo NV Store in Utrecht
Ziggo’s shares rose as much as 2.7 percent in Amsterdam, and traded up 2.3 percent to 33.33 euros at 11:37 a.m., valuing the company at about 6.7 billion euros ($9.1 billion). Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Liberty Global Plc is putting the final touches on an acquisition of Dutch broadband provider Ziggo NV as the cable company expands its European operations, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Liberty Global, controlled by U.S. billionaire John Malone, and Ziggo aim to announce a friendly deal as early as the middle of this month, and are hammering out a final acquisition price and other terms, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private negotiations.

Ziggo’s shares rose 3.6 percent in Amsterdam to 33.77 euros, valuing the company at about 6.75 billion euros ($9.2 billion).

Outstanding issues include determining whether Ziggo Chief Executive Officer Rene Obermann, a former CEO of Deutsche Telekom AG who started this month, will stay at the Dutch company if it is bought by Liberty, the people said. Liberty Global already owns about 30 percent of Ziggo, which it has gradually amassed. The companies are also discussing how to protect jobs once Ziggo’s operations are combined with Liberty Global’s existing Dutch unit, UPC, the people said.

Malone, with a net worth of about $7.3 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires index, has built a European cable and broadband empire through acquisitions in countries including the U.K. and Germany, taking advantage of rising demand for high-speed Internet and pay TV.

Murdoch Competition

Liberty Global last year bought Virgin Media Inc., a U.K. pay-TV provider, for about $16 billion, putting it in head-to-head competition with Rupert Murdoch’s British Sky Broadcasting Plc.

Ziggo’s stock may be worth 37 euros in a deal, Matthijs van Leijenhorst, an analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux in Amsterdam said on Dec. 12, meaning Malone would have to offer about 5.3 billion euros for the shares Liberty Global doesn’t already own.

Ziggo spokesman Martijn Jonker declined to comment on talks with Liberty Global and referred queries to a December press release the company issued that confirmed the negotiations.

Liberty Global spokesman Marcus Smith also declined to comment on the matter.

To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Sherman in New York at asherman6@bloomberg.net; Aaron Kirchfeld in London at akirchfeld@bloomberg.net; Matthew Campbell in London at mcampbell39@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net

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