Liberty Global cleared for Unitymedia take-over

January 26, 2010

Website: Rapid TV News

The EU Commission has given the green light to the take-over of German cable operator Unitymedia by US-based media concern Liberty Global.

The Brussels-based authority concluded that the move would not significantly impede competition in the European Union or any substantial part of it.

Unitymedia, which was so far owned by financial investors BC Partners and Apollo Management, is Germany’s second largest cable operator after Kabel Deutschland, serving 4.6 million customers.

In November 2009 Liberty Global agreed to purchase the Cologne-based company for €3.5 billion (US$4.9 billion). With UPC and Cablecom, the media giant founded by US billionaire John Malone already owns the largest cable operators in neighbouring Austria and Switzerland.

Liberty Global originally tried to enter the German cable market in 2002; however the planned purchase of the country’s nationwide cable network which was then owned by Deutsche Telekom was blocked by the Cartel Office.

As Unitymedia only serves two federal states, North-Rhine Westphalia and Hessen, no objections from the competition watchdogs were expected this time.

Industry insiders speculate that Liberty Global will pursue a growth strategy in Germany through further acquisitions in the medium term.

The aim would be to create a powerful nationwide cable operator which would compete head-on with ADSL providers for triple play customers.

Liberty Media yesterday agreed to offload Japanese cable MSO Jupiter Communications (J:Com) to KDDI, for US$4 billion.


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