John Malone's Liberty Global Acquires Ireland's TV3

John Malone in 2012 - H 2015
Associated Press

The pan-European cable operator bought the commercial network in a deal worth up to $96 million.

John Malone's Liberty Global has acquired Irish commercial network TV3 for up to nearly $100 million.

Liberty Global already owns cable operator UPC Ireland in the country, which is now the new owner of the TV3 business. TV3 operates two free-to-air channels: flagship TV3 and  youth-oriented 3e. It also operates 3Player, which the company says is the most widely distributed VOD platform in the country.

TV3 says it is the number-one channel in Ireland behind public broadcaster RTE1 with an audience share of 12 percent. In 2014, the network reported its best set of operating results since 2008.

Financial terms weren't disclosed, but TV3 itself said the deal was worth up to $96 million (€87 million).

News reports had recently said that Malone's pan-European cable operator was in advanced talks with TV3, but a deal required ministerial and regulatory clearance.

Private equity firm Carlyle Group also is believed to have been in the running for the Irish network. Private equity firm Doughty sold TV3, for which it had paid €265 million in 2006. 

The network is Ireland’s only privately owned, terrestrial, free-to-air national, commercial TV channel. Newcomer UTV Ireland earlier this year got the rights to popular U.K. soap operas Coronation Street and Emmerdale, affecting TV3’s ratings.

Magnus Ternsjo, CEO of UPC Ireland said: "We’re pleased to welcome TV3 to the Liberty Global family. The investment we are making today secures the long-term future of TV3 Group. With its wide range of home-grown programming, TV3 holds a unique place in the heart of Irish viewers. This is a terrific addition to the TV service we offer — which is already the best in Ireland."

Liberty Global also has made other content and network acquisitions — it bought U.K. production firm All3Media with Discovery Communications, among others. 

Twitter: @georgszalai