Cable Tech

Liberty Global Buys Another Polish MSO

Liberty Global said it is laying out roughly $760 million in cash to buy the third-largest cable operator in Poland.

Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) will roll Multimedia Polska into UPC Poland, which was already the largest MSO in that country. UPC Poland has more than 1.4 million cable service subscribers. Number two Vectra has roughly 850,000 subscribers. Multimedia Polska was a close number three with just a few thousand fewer than Vectra. Subscriber numbers include video, broadband and telephony. Poland has about a dozen cable companies total.

Now among the biggest global cable operators, Liberty Global grew by carefully buying up cable and other media properties around the world. Acquisitions in the last three years include Virgin Media in the UK, Ziggo in the Netherlands and Cable & Wireless, which has operations across the Caribbean.

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Indications are that it's not done. The company is known to be interested in shoring up Virgin Media against its UK competitors, and in recent weeks Chairman John Malone has pointedly noted that the weakening of the British pound might make another acquisition in that market more affordable.

Multimedia Polska's purchase price equates to a multiple of roughly six times earnings (with certain adjustments), the company said. It also works out to roughly $925 per sub.

Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries said that upon closing the transaction, Liberty Global will begin upgrading Multimedia Polska's network for faster broadband and the company's Horizon TV video service. The company debuted Horizon TV in 2012 and rolled it out in Poland in 2014. (See Liberty Global Opens Polish Horizons.)

UPC Poland passes about 3.1 million homes, or around 20% of total households in Poland, while Multimedia Polska passes roughly 1.6 million homes.

— Brian Santo, Senior Editor, Components, T&M, Light Reading

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