Liberty Global to sell J:COM stake

Liberty Global is to sell its stake in J:COM for US$4bn (€2.8bn).

The operator has agreed to sell its 37.8% stake in the Japanese cabler to wireless operator KDDI for cash, potentially freeing up to US$3bn of capital and paving the way for further expansion in Europe. Last November the company acquired German cable operator Unitymedia for US$3bn and recently denied rumours that it was eying further acquisitions in the German markets. The company is also said to be interested in growing its presence in Romania, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. “Exiting the Japanese market at a substantial premium allows us to redirect our capital into more strategic consolidation opportunities in our core markets as well as our ongoing stock buyback initiatives,” said president and CEO Mike Fries.

The company said it will sell its subsidiaries that directly or indirectly hold its interest in J:COM, whilst retaining the right to receive the anticipated final 2009 dividend of ¥490 (€3.84) per share that is expected to be approved at a shareholders meeting in March. The sale price of ¥140,000 per share would represent a 65% premium to the closing price of J:COM’s shares last Friday.