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Liberty Global Expands in Poland

Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) continued its push into European cable Monday with a deal to buy all the shares of Polish MSO Aster Sp. z.o.o. for about $292 million. With Aster's adjusted net debt of $513 million factored in, the total purchase price is on the order of $805 million. (See Liberty Buys Aster .)

Aster's current owner, Mid Europa Partners LLP, has reportedly had the operator on the block since the summer. Liberty Global intends to close the deal by the first half of 2011, with Aster tagged to become part of the UPC Holding BV credit group.

Why this matters
Aster isn't a big MSO (it has about 368,000 video subs, 177,000 Internet subs, and 70,000 phone customers), but it does expand Liberty Global's presence in Europe and Poland, in particular. Liberty's UPC Broadband is already the largest MSO in Poland, followed by Vectra. Vectra, by the way, also submitted a bid for Aster.

Liberty Global president and CEO Michael Fries said in a statement that the acquisition represented a "natural and necessary step" toward helping to consolidate Poland's "highly fragmented" cable TV market.

The company said it plans to offer its next-gen digital and broadband products to Aster's customers. Liberty Global didn't say as much, but that's likely to include access to Docsis 3.0-class Internet speeds and the company's upcoming IP-capable multimedia gateway/set-top.

For more
For more on Liberty's technology roadmap and its embrace of the European cable market:

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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