Liberty Global Says Looking at Ziggo Deal ‘Long Term’Amy Thomson
Liberty Global Plc is still studying a combination with Ziggo NV to expand in the Netherlands, after the Dutch cable-television provider said last month it had rejected its offer.
“We clearly are looking long term about the possibility of a combination,” Liberty Global Chief Financial Officer Charles Bracken said today at an investor conference in Barcelona. “There are clearly synergies, however Liberty is very disciplined about prices.”
Bracken said that for now, Liberty Global is happy to maintain its stake of about 29 percent of Ziggo, which will be led by Rene Obermann from Deutsche Telekom AG in the new year. Liberty Global has sought to extend its reach in Europe, acquiring the U.K.’s Virgin Media Inc. for about $16 billion this year and attempting to buy Kabel Deutschland Holding AG, a German cable company, before being outbid by Vodafone Group Plc.
The company may also look at buying out the minority stake in Telenet Group Holding NV, a Belgian cable TV provider, Bracken said. Liberty Global said it held about 58 percent of the company.
Ziggo rose as much as 1.9 percent after Bracken’s comments. Shares traded down less than 1 percent at 31.57 euros at 5:08 p.m. in Amsterdam. Liberty Global gained 0.3 percent to $79.48 in New York.
There’s not much left to buy in Europe, and Liberty Global’s focus is on developing the assets it has, Bracken said at a conference organized by Morgan Stanley.
“Europe has been profitable for us and our investors,” Bracken said. “In terms of the markets we have not yet entered that remain available, places like France and Scandinavia, they’re less attractive to us. It’s become less of a consolidation game and more about trying to monetize and build on that scale.”
Ziggo rejected London-based Liberty Global’s August takeover proposal as “inadequate,” according to a statement last month by the Utrecht-based company. The Dutch market is still very competitive, because of rivals such as KPN NV, and “not out of the woods,” Bracken said.
To grow in mobile services, Liberty Global is set to expand its so-called mobile virtual network operator business, Bracken said.
“We are in the process of finalizing and launching MVNOs across much of our markets in the next 18 months and have moved from a development phase to a phase which is more operational,” Bracken said.