Liberty aims to close NTL deal this year

11 Nov 2005

Liberty Global, the company that’s in the process of acquiring NTL Ireland for €325m, has said it is optimistic it will close the acquisition in 2005. The statement follows a decision last week by the Competition Authority to approve the acquisition with certain conditions attached.

Liberty Global has already acquired cable and content companies in Romania and Holland, and recently closed an acquisition of Cablecom, the largest cable operator in Switzerland.

The company acquired Irish cable firm Chorus last year for €55m and beat a number of consortia to the post of acquiring NTL Ireland for €325m with Goldman Sachs buying the firm on behalf of Liberty pending the Competition Authority’s approval of the acquisition.

Liberty today reported its third-quarter results with revenue growing 20pc to €1.3bn for the quarter. However, the company reported a loss for the quarter of €153m, compared with a profit of US$79m (€69m) during the same quarter last year.

During the quarter the company saw the addition of more than 309,000 revenue-generating unites or households. It’s Japanese cable player, J:Com, added some 90,000 subscribers and has moved into the world of quad-play services, which adds wireless or mobile capabilities to the standard triple-play package of voice, TV and broadband.

“This new quad-play opportunity is expected to reduce customer churn and generate incremental profitability in our core markets,” commented Liberty CEO Mike Fries. “In addition, we are well positioned with respect to wireless opportunities and have been opportunistically acquiring low-cost spectrum licences in selected markets.”

Commenting on the company’s ongoing acquisition trail, Fries said: “We recently received approval from the Irish Competition Authority, subject to certain conditions, with respect to our announced acquisition of NTL Ireland and are optimistic that we will close this acquisition in 2005.

“In addition to our acquisition activity in Europe, we also made significant progress in Japan, completing the acquisition of Odakyu Cable Vision and increasing our stake to a majority interest in Cable Television Kobe, that together will add more than 500,000 homes passed to J:Com’s consolidated footprint,” Fries said.

By John Kennedy