Chorus rings the changes with new owner UGC

21 Dec 2004

UnitedGlobalCom (UGC) has acquired the assets of cable TV operator Chorus from Liberty Media International (LMI) in a stock deal valued at US$55m. The US-headquartered firm is a provider of video, voice and broadband internet services with operations in 14 countries.

Liberty had owned Chorus outright for less than a year, having assumed full control of the Irish operation from Independent News & Media in January 2004. UGC bought LMI’s 100pc ownership interest in Chorus for 6.4 million shares of UGC Class A common stock valued at approximately US$55m. The transaction was part of a larger deal with LMI that saw UGC also acquire Telenet, Belgium’s largest cable operator.

Chorus is Ireland’s second largest cable television and MMDS operator providing video, voice and broadband internet services to more than 200,000 customers. Chorus, which went into voluntary examinership last January, also had debts of €80.1m, which UGC has now assumed. In a statement, UGC said the deal would allow it to consolidate meaningful operating cash flow from Chorus.

Headquartered in Limerick, Chorus employs 550 people in Ireland. It operates the largest MMDS operation in the State and has diversified its service offering beyond TV to include telephony and broadband internet services.

LMI actually owns UGC so the deal in effect is a transfer of ownership. LMI holds a range of investments in companies such as Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, the telecoms provider Sprint, the Discovery Channel and the home shopping network QVC.

John Malone, president and CEO of LMI, commented: “This transaction reinforces UGC’s position as our primary European broadband vehicle. The Telenet and Chorus management teams have done an outstanding job growing their respective businesses and delivering superior broadband services to their customers. These teams now have the opportunity to benefit from UGC’s significant scale, operating efficiency and expertise.”

By Gordon Smith