Shane OÂNeill, chief strategy officer at cable group Liberty Global, told delegates at the Cable Congress in Brussels this morning that he expected merger activity in the European cable industry to ramp up significantly in the next 12 months.
Taking part in a finance panel session at the conference, OÂNeill confirmed that Liberty Global had about US$3bn (Â2.2bn) to spend on acquisitions and said that he expected significant M&A activity in the cable market in general in a number of territories this year. ÂOver the next 12 months you will see a lot of activity around German and Benelux,Â he said. ÂZiggo may come to market in the next 12 to 18 months. Also, central and eastern Europe is the other big market for us.Â
OÂNeill ruled out any interest in German cable operator Kabel Deutschland (KDG), currently preparing for an IPO, following Liberty GlobalÂs entry into the market via its recent acquisition of Unitymedia. ÂIt would be great to put those together but we have to realistic and sensitive to the regulatory environment in Germany,Â he said. ÂRight now itÂs a bridge too far.Â
OÂNeill also said that the fact that cable had emerged Ârelatively unscathedÂ from the economic meltdown of last year was Âa testament to the strength of [its] business modelÂ.