Liberty Global expands in Europe with €10 billion Ziggo deal

Monday 27 January 2014 11.22
Liberty Global's John Malone in €10 billion deal for Ziggo
Liberty Global's John Malone in €10 billion deal for Ziggo

US cable giant Liberty Global is to buy Dutch operator Ziggo in a deal valuing the company at €10 billion, as it marches further into strategic European markets.

The stock and cash offer implies a price of €34.53 a share, both companies said in a statement today, and comes after Ziggo in October rejected a bid from Liberty Global as too low.  

Liberty Global, controlled by tycoon John Malone, already operates in the Netherlands through Ziggo competitor UPC and last year bought 28.5% of Ziggo.

"Our combined operations will reach over 90% of all Dutch households allowing us to compete more effectively with the other national telecommunications and satellite platforms in the Netherlands, and at the same time generate significant revenue and operating efficiencies," said Liberty Global's chief executive Mike Fries.

The companies hope that the deal will save them €160m a year in running costs by 2018 "which will underpin our growth profile over the next few years in the Netherlands and for Liberty Global overall, as we continue to build scale in Western Europe," he said.

The merged company will trade as Ziggo and be based in Utrecht.

The acquisition is the latest by Colorado-based Liberty Global in Europe after it last year bought Virgin Media in a merger valued at $23.3 billion. That huge deal covered 47 million homes and served 25 million customers in 14 countries.

The purchase of Ziggo gives access to seven million Dutch homes, providing 10 million video, broadband internet and telephony services to over four million customers, the statement said.

"With approximately €2.5 billion in total revenue, the combined company will be a leading provider of communication services across the Netherlands," the companies said.

The deal was "unanimously recommended by Ziggo's Supervisory and Management Boards, having concluded the transaction is in the best interests of Ziggo and its stakeholders, including its shareholders," they said.

"Based on the required steps and subject to the necessary approvals, Liberty Global and Ziggo anticipate that the offer will close in the second half of 2014," they added.

Now active in 13 countries, including 11 in Europe, Liberty bought Unitymedia and Kabel BW, the number two and three German cable operators respectively, in 2010 and 2011.

Liberty said last year that it had abandoned an initial public offering for the Belgian company Telenet after being able to attract only 58.3% of the capital.