Liberty Global to acquire Dutch cable firm Ziggo

International cable group Liberty Global is to acquire Dutch cable operator Ziggo outright, in a deal that values the firm at €10bn. Last year, the firm acquired British cable firm Virgin Media for $24bn and said at the time that it intends to create the “world’s leading broadband communications company”. Ziggo offers television, internet and telephony services in the Netherlands.

Liberty Global already operates in the Dutch cable market through subsidiary UPC Netherlands and the group said that the combined businesses would be able to reach seven million subscribers, representing 90 per cent of Dutch homes. Based on both firms fiscal year performance for 2013, they generated a combined €2.5bn in revenue over the course of last year.

Liberty Global purchased approximately 28.5 per cent of Ziggo’s outstanding ordinary shares in 2013, paying approximately €25.37 per share. The group said that its offer to acquire the remaining shares represents a 22 per cent increase on the closing share price of Ziggo on October 15th 2013, the day before Ziggo announced a proposal from Liberty Global about its potential offer.

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“This transaction creates a nationwide cable champion that will drive investment and innovation for the benefit of Dutch consumers and businesses alike,” said Mike Fries, CEO at Liberty Global.

He added that the scale of Ziggo combined with UPC Netherlands will allow Liberty to better compete with rivals in the market and generate revenue and cost efficiencies.

Andrew Sukawaty, chairman of the Supervisory Board of Ziggo, added that the transaction is essentially about two Dutch firms, UPC Netherlands and Ziggo, combining forces.

“The new Ziggo combines two regional networks. By joining forces they will stimulate and maintain the leading position of the Netherlands in the digital economy. For our employees the new combination will allow them to become part of a larger and stronger company, offering new perspectives and career opportunities.”

The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to be completed in the second half of 2014.

The opportunity in multi-play offerings has enticed European operators to invest in recent times. Last year, Liberty Global countered Vodafone’s bid to acquire German cable firm Kabel Deutschland for €7.7bn, but ultimately lost out on the deal. With that acquisition, Vodafone said it believes it can create an integrated communications operator that generates around €11.5bn in revenue each year in Germany.

In October, Norwegian operator group Telenor strengthened its position in the Swedish broadband and television services sector by acquiring Tele2 Sweden’s fiber and cable business for SEK775m ($121.4m). And Telekom Austria’s Croatian subsidiary Vipnet acquired three regional cable providers last summer, having acquired market leader in 2011.

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