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Liberty Latin America makes first acquisition in Costa Rica

Liberty Latin America has made its first big acquisition since becoming an independent company, acquiring an 80% stake in Costa Rica cable operator Cabletica.

The all-cash deal values Televisora de Costa Rica-owned Cabletica at CRC143 billion (€200 million), representing a multiple of 6.3 times the company’s 2017 financial year EBITDA.

Televisora will retain a 20% stake in the company. The company will also retain control of Cabletica’s content assets, some of which will be provided to the cable network on an exclusive basis.

Cabletica’s HFC network passes about 562,000 homes – about 40% of the country’s total – and had 207,000 customers taking 327,000 services at the end of September last year. The company provides analogue and digital TV, broadband internet and fixed-line phone services.

Cabletica launched its own VOD platform, Cabletica Play, in 2016, including content from HBO such as Game of Thrones. The company does not currently have a mobile offering. Rival players in the TV market include multinational cable operator Tigo and Grupo ICE-owned Cable Visión, as well as DTH player DirecTV.

Balan Nair

Liberty plans to finance the deal through a combination of debt and existing cash. Cablitica is expected to have net debt of about US$125 million (€102 million) at the time of the deal’s closing.

“The acquisition of a leading cable operator in Costa Rica is an exciting move as it adds further scale to our growing platform and diversifies us into one of the region’s most attractive markets. We look forward to building on Cabletica’s achievements and partnering with its current owners, further investing in enhancing products and services for Cabletica’s customers, while also integrating the business with Liberty Latin America. This transaction is a prime example of our consolidation ambitions, leveraging our unique subsea and terrestrial footprint, in a region that remains highly fragmented and continues to be both underpenetrated and underserved by high-speed data services,” said Liberty Latin America CEO Balan Nair.

“We are delighted to enter into this agreement and look forward to a long and successful partnership with Liberty Latin America that will deliver many benefits for both our customers and employees. We also look forward to further developing the strong content alliance between Cabletica and Televisora and have extended the carriage of exclusive local sports channels TD+ and TD+2 as part of the transaction,” said René Picado, president of Televisora.