Liberty Global acquires Unitymedia

Liberty Global is to acquire German cable operator Unitymedia in a deal worth €3.5m. Liberty Global will acquire the operator for an equity purchase price of €2bn from its parent, which is owned by a group of shareholders. Together with Unitymedia’s net debt of approximately €1.5bn, the total consideration is €3.5bn, excluding transaction costs.

Liberty Global owns and operates various European cable networks under its UPC Broadband division. It is unclear whether it will incorporate Unitymedia into its UPC family or allow it to remain independent.

The news comes as a surprise as various press reports had speculated that Unitymedia, which was acquired by equity partners BC Partners and Apollo for €1.5bn in 2003, was set to announce an IPO this week.  Unitymedia’s CEO Parm Sandhu said the acquisition, which is expected to complete during the first half of 2010, would bring “significant benefits to our customers, employees and other stakeholders”.

Mike Fries, president and CEO of Liberty Global said: “The addition of Unitymedia not only enhances our European presence, but adds significant scale to our global operations, as our footprint, including Unitymedia, will exceed 40 million homes.” 

Shane O’Neill, Liberty Global’s senior vice-president and chief strategy officer said the company had no further plans to expand in Germany, adding that there are no plans for an IPO.