Cable Tech

Ziggo Rejects Liberty Takeover Bid

Liberty Global's attempt to acquire Ziggo, the largest cable operator in the Netherlands, has been spurned by the Dutch company, which rejected the offer as inadequate.

Ziggo B.V. issued a statement late Wednesday noting that it has "received a preliminary proposal regarding a potential offer for the company by Liberty Global," but that the "potential offer was considered inadequate and there is no certainty that Ziggo will receive any revised offer."

Ziggo, which has a market value of €6.24 billion (US$8.5 billion), has seen its share price rise by more than 8 percent during the past week following speculation about a potential bid, but following the rejection announcement the operator's share price slid back by 2.2 percent on the Amsterdam exchange Thursday morning to €30.50. The operator is due to announce its third-quarter financial results Friday.

Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) already holds a 28.5 percent stake in the Dutch cable provider, and CEO Mike Fries told Reuters last week that he was content with that position. News of a bid appears to refute that claim, however, as does a report by the German publication Manager Magazin stating that Liberty has plans to merge Ziggo with fellow operator UPC in the Netherlands and with Belgian firm Telenet.

Liberty has already made it clear that it intends to consolidate power globally through acquisition. The company bought Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) in February for $23.3 million in cash and stock to become the world's largest cable operator by subscriber count. It also spent $2.6 billion to take a 27 percent stake in Charter Communications Inc. , giving Malone a triumphant return to the US market. (See Liberty Puts Up $2.6B for 27% Stake in Charter and Behind Cable's Urge to Merge.)

Cable kingpin and Liberty Global chairman John Malone would like to add Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) to his growing operator portfolio, but so far, the second-largest cable company in the US has resisted Liberty's overtures.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading Cable

albreznick 10/17/2013 | 5:33:01 PM
Playing hard to get? Will Ziggo stand firm against Liberty? Or it just playing hard to get because it craves more of John Malone's stash of cash? We shall see. It would be fun to see Ziggo stand firm because they're a pretty innovative bunch (and I love their name). But I suspect they'll be steamrolled by Liberty, just like most everyone else is. 
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