Telenet takeover of cable companies OK'd

Belgian cable group shut out after Belgacom complaint

BRUSSELS -- Belgian cable group Telenet has been cleared to take over a consortium of four local cable companies after two court rulings dismissed efforts by rival Belgacom to block the deal.

The court decisions come seven months after Telenet -- controlled by John Malone's Liberty Global empire -- signed a provisional 170 million euro ($262 million) deal with the Interkabel TV consortium.

But the deal was frozen when Belgacom, in which the Belgian government holds a 53% stake, filed a civil complaint. Belgacom argued that the deal should have been subject to a local tender, the price Telenet had paid was too low and the deal would undermine competition.

However, the Council of State, Belgium's top court, has now ruled against Belgacom, while a separate decision by the Antwerp Court of Appeal also confirmed the takeover.

Telenet said that once the acquisition goes through, it will bring annual turnover of 90 million  euros ($139 million) to the company.

Cable has a 90% penetration rate in Belgium. Belgacom has struggled to compete against Telenet in the north and against rival VOO in the south of the country.