Liberty Global Takes Stake in Top Dutch Cable Operator
COLOGNE, Germany -- John Malone continues his European cable TV buying spree. Slightly more than a month after agreeing to pay $23.3 billion for Virgin Media in the U.K., Malone's Liberty Global has put up another $810 million for a minority stake in Ziggo, the leading cable operator in the Netherlands.
The Dutch deal, which will give Liberty Global 12.65 percent of Ziggo, follows major expansion across Europe for Liberty, which is benefiting from a cable boom across the continent. Liberty already controls UPC Netherlands, a major Dutch cable group with 1.73 million customers and 2012 revenue of more than $1.2 billion (€955.6 million). Its parent operator, UPC Holding, which serves more than 10 million European customers in Western and Eastern Europe, booked operating profits of $1.36 billion (€1.06 billion) last year.
In Germany, Europe's largest cable TV market, Liberty last year completed its merger between cable groups UnityMedia and Kabel BW, forming a national giant with more than 11 million subscribers and $2.3 billion in annual revenue.
Liberty recently increased its stake in Belgian cable operator Telenet Group to 58.4 percent, part of the company's strategy to consolidate cable operators across Europe.
Liberty will finance its acquisition of the Ziggo stake through existing cash flow and a non-recourse margin loan. Because the deal does not give Liberty control of Ziggo, no regulatory approval is required.