US cable company Liberty Global has offered further concessions to help smooth the way for regulatory approval of its planned acquisition of German cableco Kabel BW, according to a report by Dow Jones which quotes Lutz Schueler, chief executive Liberty-owned cableco Unitymedia. In October antitrust regulator the Federal Cartel Office (FCO) expressed concerns that the potential deal would have a negative impact on competition in the market, and would affect the supply of TV services to properties with a number of residential units, particularly housing associations. However, under Liberty’s new proposals, housing associations will have the right to terminate longer-term contracts held with Unitymedia, which was acquired by Liberty in January 2010, and Kabel BW until 30 September 2012. Approximately 280,000 units are under longer-term contracts, representing 30% of the market segment in which the FCO has competitive concerns. ‘We’re in a constructive dialogue with the cartel office… These are of course painful cuts and we have reached our limit,’ Schueler said. Liberty had earlier offered an end to exclusivity in contracts with housing associations and the provision of unencrypted digital free-to-air television, in order to pave the way for approval of the Kabel BW deal.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database states that Liberty Global emerged as the highest bidder to acquire Kabel BW from Swedish investment firm EQT in March 2011, beating bids from CVC and Hallman & Friedman with an offer of EUR3.16 billion (USD4.5 billion). In June 2011 the European Commission (EC) agreed to transfer jurisdiction over the investigation into the planned acquisition to the FCO, which in October said that it had pushed back the deadline for its review of the deal from 11 November to 15 December.