Liberty Global Scoops Up KBW for $4.5B

John Malone doesn't like to lose.

On Monday, his Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) agreed to buy Kabel BW GmbH & Co. , Germany's third-largest MSO, for €3.16 billion ($4.48 billion), outbidding CVC Capital Partners and Hellman & Friedman LLC . The deal, expected to close in the second half of the year, would make Germany the largest European market for Denver-based Liberty Global. (See Liberty Global to Acquire KBW.)

Last year, Liberty Global made its first big play in Germany, closing a US$5.2 billion deal for Unitymedia GmbH , Germany's second-largest MSO, with about 4.6 million subscribers. (See Liberty Splashes $5.2B on German Operator.)

KBW has 2.4 million customers, and its network passes 3.7 million homes.

Why this matters
The purchase of KBW from European private equity firm EQT Partners would make Liberty Global and MSO Kabel Deutschland GmbH close cable rivals in terms of sheer size, creating a two-headed cable monster for Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) to contend with. After the KBW deal, Liberty Global would own MSOs serving about 6.9 million subs, still a couple million off of Kabel Deutschland's 9 million-plus.

The buy would expand Malone's already prodigious European cable empire, which, in addition to Unitymedia, includes UPC Broadband , which operates systems in parts of Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland, as well as Telenet in Belgium.

For more
For more about Liberty Global's European handiwork, please check out:

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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