Liberty acquires Kabel BW in EUR3.2bn deal

22 Mar 2011

Swedish private equity firm EQT has announced it has agreed to sell German cableco Kabel BW to US media company Liberty Global Inc (LGI) for a total enterprise value of EUR3.16 billion (USD4.48 billion). LGI already operates in the German cable market through the country’s second largest cableco by subscribers Unitymedia, which the US company acquired in January 2010. The Kabel BW deal is expected to bring together Germany’s second and third largest cable operators by customers, subject to antitrust approval. According to a report by the Financial Times, which cites people briefed on the matter, LGI clinched the deal with EQT after rival bidders dropped out, including private equity groups CVC Capital Partners and Hellman & Friedman. A person familiar with Liberty’s strategy said it was ‘very confident’ of getting the green light from the Federal Cartel Office (FCO).

As reported by CommsUpdate, LGI edged ahead in EQT’s auction of Heidelberg-based Kabel BW, after raising its bid to around EUR3.1 billion last week, narrowly beating private equity firm CVC’s offer of EUR2.95 billion. Earlier this month, Kabel BW 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 reportedly hired JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Bank as joint global coordinators for the possible listing, but later scrapped plans for an initial public offering (IPO) after the earthquake in Japan made investors wary and weakened markets. EQT has been the sole shareholder in Kabel BW since it bought the cableco from US investment group Blackstone in April 2006 for around EUR1.3 billion.

Germany, Kabel BW, Liberty Global (incl. LGI), Unitymedia