Liberty Global Ups Bidding for Germany’s Kabel BW

8:10 AM PST 03/21/2011 by Scott Roxborough

John Malone has upped the stakes, again, for Kabel BW, reportedly offering $4.4 billion in his bid for Germany’s third-largest cable operator.

 

COLOGNE, Germany -- John Malone has upped the stakes, again, for Kabel BW, reportedly offering $4.4 billion (€3.1 billion) in his bid for Germany’s third-largest cable operator.

Malone’s Liberty Global group is in a bidding war with investment groups CVC and Hellman & Friedman for Kabel BW, which serves 2.3 million homes in the rich southern state of Baden-Wurttemberg. CVC was ahead of the pack with its $4.2 billion (€2.95 billion) bid, but Liberty sweetened its offer over the weekend, according to Reuters, putting Malone in the lead.

Officially, Kabel BW plans to go public in April, although most analysts expect the IPO to be put on ice, given the global uncertainty following the war in Libya and natural disasters in Japan.

Kabel BW owners EQT are expected to make a decision this week. The only factor working against Malone is that Liberty already controls German cabler Unitymedia, which passes 4.6 million homes. German media watchdogs might balk at letting Malone buy up another big cable group.

Together with Kabel BW, Liberty’s German cable footprint would be nearly 7 million homes, within striking distance of market leader Kabel Deutschland.

Liberty also has major cable assets in German neighbors the Netherlands and Austria (UPC), Switzerland (Cablecom) and Belgium (Telenet).

Reuters contributed to this report.

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