Liberty Global unconcerned whether Fox or Comcast take control of Sky

Liberty Global is “not bothered” about whether 21st Century Fox or Comcast gains control of Sky in the UK, according to the international cable operator’s CEO Mike Fries.

Speaking to CNBC, Fries said that Liberty both competed and partnered with Sky in the UK and said that the market was “healthy and vibrant” and competitive.

Liberty Global CEO, Mike Fries

Fries said that there would be only one winner between Disney and Comcast for Fox. He told CNBC that Comcast seemed “pretty determined” to acquire Sky, given the multiple implied by its latest bid.

Asked whether Liberty could be a seller in the UK, he said that Liberty had “a great organic business” in Virgin Media and was not itself thinking about exiting its business.

“We are strategically complete in the UK, so we are not really thinking about exits. We are thinking about growth and value creation,” he said.

He said that Liberty remained “focused on doing what we do well” which was to grow in its core businesses, and sometimes exit markets where that made sense, as had been the case in Germany. He said that the company had invested US$2 billion in Germany, had taken US$4 billion in dividends out and was selling to Vodafone for US$9-10 billion.

“There are opportunities in Europe we should be focused on and of course there is always the opportunity of just buying our stock back,” he said.

Fries said he the US Department of Justice’s decision to appeal against the court ruling in favour of AT&T’s merger with Time Warner “was a big surprise”. He said he did not think the move would have an impact on Disney’s bid for 21st Century Fox’s assets but could have an impact on Comcast’s rival bid.

Fries said the appeal could have an impact on Fox’s board’s thinking but added that he was “not an expert” on that.

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