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March 22, 2010

Liberty Global interested in Australia’s Foxtel

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by Rapid TV News

Website: Rapid TV News

Liberty Global’s CEO Mike Fries has indicated his company would be interested in buying into Australian pay-TV platform Foxtel, although he doubts Foxtel’s owners (Telstra, News Corp and Nine Network), would want to sell.

Liberty already has a stake in the Australian pay-TV market, through its 54% stake in regional pay-TV platform Austar.

Foxtel is the metropolitan-targeted version.

Should Telstra, the major Foxtel shareholder, refuse to comply with a government order to separate its wholesale and retail arms, the telco could find itself forced to sell its stake.

Liberty, Mike Fries said, would be a happy purchaser.

The two companies held merger talks as recently as two years ago, but these came to nought.

Asked by the ABC’s Inside Business programme at the weekend whether Liberty was prepared to sell its Austar stake to Foxtel during those talks, Fries said: “If the price were something that we really couldn’t turn down we would have to respond to it but generally speaking we are not in the posture of exiting and we’re very very happy owners and quite frankly I’d rather be a buyer and with the capital we have at our… you know, relatively available to us, I guess I’d be much more interested in buying Foxtel myself.”

Questioned on why Liberty hadn’t made a bid for Foxtel, Fries added: “you know it’s easier said than done. I think the problem is that you’ve got some very strong owners, strong willed owners who are each in their own way getting something from this relationship.

“I do believe it will be difficult to break that up so it probably would fall on deaf ears.”

Story link: Liberty Global interested in Australia’s Foxtel


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