Liberty Global increases stake in Telenet ahead of planned reorganisation

Liberty Global has increased its stake in Belgian cable operator Telenet to over 58% after making a cash offer for shares in the company that it did not already own. Liberty Global previously owned 50.4% of Telenet.

Liberty Global intends to align the strategy and operations of Telenet with the rest of the international cable company. It said it was reviewing the current organisation, governance and reporting structure at Telenet with a view to bringing about a closer integration of its management with the rest of Liberty Global’s operations. Liberty Global will also seek to raise Telenet’s debt to a level in line with the parent company, with a target debt to EBITDA range of four to five.

Mike Fries, president and CEO of Liberty Global, said: “We remain committed to investing in growth opportunities for Telenet, maintaining its position as a leading innovator in the Belgian market, and delivering best-in-class services to its customers. We believe that this is the right time for Telenet to be more closely integrated within our pan-European platform and in an environment where scale is paramount, we believe that closer integration will benefit all Telenet stakeholders.”

Liberty Global’s offer, representing €35 a share, which was launched in December, provoked claims that it was too low, with Telenet citing a Lazard report that valued the shares at between €37 and €42.  Liberty Global said at the time that the offer represented a 12.5% premium to the company’s closing share price on September 19 and a 4.9% premium over its all-time high trading price prior to the announcement of the offer.

Telenet recently said it had achieved revenue growth of 8.2% for 2012, ahead of expectations, with EBITDA growth of 7.5% also ahead of expectation.