US cable company Liberty Global has edged ahead in EQT’s auction of German cableco Kabel BW, Reuters reports, citing people familiar with the matter. Liberty Global, which has owned Germany’s second largest cableco by subscribers Unitymedia since January 2010, raised its bid to around EUR3.1 billion (USD4.4 billion) on Saturday, narrowly beating private equity firm CVC’s offer of EUR2.95 billion. A third offer from buyout firm Hellman & Friedman was beaten by both bidders last week. Swedish private equity firm EQT had been due to decide whether to sell Kabel BW or proceed with an initial public offering (IPO) of the company, but could now delay its decision given the higher offer, one of the sources said. A second person added that there were significant anti-trust hurdles facing Liberty Global’s bid, which would bring together Germany’s second and third largest cable operators in terms of subscribers.
As reported by CommsUpdate, Kabel BW earlier this month unveiled plans to float on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in the first half of 2011, while EQT was still sounding out a potential sale of the cableco. EQT has reportedly hired JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Bank as joint global coordinators for the listing, while BofA Merrill Lynch and Royal Bank of Scotland will act as joint bookrunners. EQT has been the sole shareholder in Heidelberg-based Kabel BW since it bought the cableco from US investment group Blackstone in April 2006 for around EUR1.3 billion.