International cable TV and broadband group Liberty Global has pulled out of a deal to enlarge its operations in Poland. In October 2016 the group announced a plan to merge its local subsidiary UPC Poland with smaller rival Multimedia Polska in a deal valued at around PLN3 billion (USD876 million). The merger has now been called off, however, with Liberty Global saying: ‘We have withdrawn from the transaction to acquire Multimedia Polska after failing to agree on revised commercial terms with the sellers that take into account current regulatory and market conditions.’
The deal had been subject to close scrutiny by competition and market regulators in Poland, with UPC offering to offload operations in four cities in order to clear the way for the merger to go through. This came as a response to a statement by the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) last October which ruled that the merger would have a strong impact on competition in both the internet and pay-TV markets in 15 cities.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, UPC is the largest cable broadband provider and second largest ISP overall in Poland, while Multimedia is the third largest cableco in subscriber terms and lies fifth in the broadband sector overall. The parties said that consolidation was necessary in Poland’s fragmented cable market in order to stimulate investment. In a statement, Liberty Global concluded by saying: ‘We remain confident in the business prospects of our Polish operation and will consider other accretive consolidation opportunities as and when they arise.’