Telenet unites Flanders cable offerings

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BRUSSELS -- Belgian cable operator Telenet clinched a 170 million euro ($252 million) deal Tuesday with local cable TV operators to use their networks under a 38-year lease.

The agreement leaves cable customers in Flanders -- the northern, Dutch-speaking region of Belgium -- with a single cable provider for all Internet, telephony, analog, digital and interactive digital TV services, compared with five at present. It also ensures that the four municipal cable companies -- known under the umbrella Interkabel -- will remain the owners of their networks.

Telenet said it will acquire a total annual profit of about 90 million euros ($133 million) and additional core profit of 40 million-45 million euros ($59 million-$67 million).

Telenet CEO Duco Sickinghe said the deal simplifies the cable offering for Flemish customers as well as broadcasters. "This shows that the continuing consolidation within the cable industry, as is happening elsewhere in Europe, is a natural evolution," he said.

Telenet's interactive digital TV service, iDTV, also will be available to the whole Interkabel footprint as of next year. For broadcasters, this means that services such as Just Missed, iWatch, C-More and other interactive services including voting and play along services will become available throughout Flanders via cable.

In June, cable giant Liberty Global -- controlled by U.S. cable mogul John Malone -- spent €466.7 million ($626.6 million) raising its stake in Telenet from 31.3% to 49.7%.

Telenet posted its first-ever net annual profit, 8.5 million euros ($11.2 million) on revenue of 813.5 million euros ($1.1 billion) in 2006.
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