Telenet CEO Duco Sickinghe says his company is still on track to finalise the purchase of the television activities of Interkabel by the end of 2008, but cautions that the process remains highly dependent on the outcome of an ongoing legal battle. ‘We remain optimistic … but we also have to look towards the politicians and the government to make up their mind what they really want to do with competition in this area’, Sickinghe told a conference call.
The deal signed with the four Flemish municipal cablecos (Integan, Intermedia, PBE and WVEM) that collectively make up Interkabel involved the transfer of their analogue and digital TV businesses to Telenet for a period of 38 years. In return, Telenet is to make a one-off payment of EUR170 million (USD263.8 million), and pay an annual fee for the use of the networks, which will remain under municipal ownership. Telenet would gain around 800,000 cable customers as a result of the agreement, around a third of the Flemish market. However, national incumbent Belgacom filed a complaint in an Antwerp court against the four cable providers over the sale, and a political discussion has arisen over whether the delaying tactics by Belgacom are against the interest of fair competition. Sickinghe said he expects a verdict on the case in June or July, and if all goes well, he expects the Interkabel sale to proceed by September.