Liberty Global Eyeing Cable Operators in Norway, Poland

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John Malone’s cable giant recently closed a $4 billion deal to buy German group Kabel BW.

COLOGNE, Germany – Mere weeks after completing a $4 billion deal to buy German cable operator Kabel BW, John Malone’s Liberty Global is reportedly eyeing a pair of European cable operators expected to go on the block later this year.

Norwegian cable group Get and Multimedia Polska, Poland’s second largest cable operator, are both thought to be buyout targets.

First-round bidding on Polska, which claims to have 830,000 subscribers and pass 1.4 million households in Poland, could come as earlier as next week. The owners – groups headed by businessmen Tomasz Ulatowski and Ygal Ozechov – could raise up to $850 million (€700 million) from the sale.

Private equity groups including Mid Europa Partners, Permira and EQT are among other reported potential bidders for Polska. Liberty already has a foothold in Poland, controlling UPC Polska and Aster, which it purchased last year. Together, they represent around 30 percent of the Polish cable market.

Quadrangle and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners control Norway’s cable TV operator Get and are looking to raise $1.2 billion (€1 billion) or more from the sale, Reuters quotes people familiar with the situation as saying. Quadrangle and Goldman Sachs picked up Get from now defunct PE group Candover in 2007 for €724 million.

The European cable business has become a battleground for international investment groups as it continues to produce steady growth while other sectors have faltered in the wake of the credit crisis. Witness Liberty Global’s acquisition of Kabel BW in Germany, a deal finally completed last week, or BC Partners' recent takeover of Sweden’s cable operator Com Hem.