Germany’s largest cable operator Kabel Deutschland has confirmed that it has received a preliminary approach from US firm Liberty Global, potentially starting a bidding war with the UK’s Vodafone Group, which last week made an initial offer to buy the cableco. A statement posted on Kabel Deutschland’s website said: ‘There is no certainty that any transaction with Liberty Global will ultimately materialise from this proposal.’ While the cableco, which has a network serving around 8.5 million households in 13 out of 16 German states, did not provide any further details on Liberty’s preliminary offer, the Financial Times reports that Liberty offered around EUR85 (USD113) per share, valuing the company at around EUR7.5 billion. Liberty Global already owns the country’s second largest cableco, Unitymedia KabelBW, which was formed last year from the consolidation of Unitymedia and Kabel BW; the US firm had originally purchased the two companies in early 2010 and late 2011, respectively.
The move by Liberty Global follows the rejection of an initial bid made by Vodafone last week, an offer Kabel Deutschland considered too low. According to people familiar with the matter, Vodafone offered around EUR80-EUR82 per share, but is now considering making an improved bid. The British group had put preliminary plans to acquire Kabel Deutschland on hold in the first quarter of this year after they surfaced in the press, but earlier this month it was reported that it was taking another look at a potential bid for the cableco, in a move that would bolster its position in the German fixed line market.