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Liberty Global wraps up speedy Sunrise acquisition

Liberty Global has confirmed that it has completed the acquisition of Swiss operator Sunrise.

The completed deal is something of a fast turnaround, considering it was announced exactly three months ago. At the time, Liberty said that the combination of Sunrise and its Swiss business UPC would generate revenues of CHF3.1 billion (€2.87 billion) with a total of  2.1 million mobile post-paid subscribers, 1.2 million broadband subscribers and 1.3 million TV subscribers.

Liberty Global has confirmed that it will not merge Sunrise and UPC Switzerland right away, and that the companies will operate independently until their merger in early 2021.

The operator expressed confidence in the deal last week, with CEO Mike Fries telling investors that its closure was imminent.

Following the overwhelming approval from investors last month, the deal has now been signed off by regulators and Liberty has fulfilled its further purchase conditions.

Liberty said that it now owns 98% of Sunrise and will initiate “ a squeeze-out according to the Swiss Financial Market Infrastructure Act.” This will see the Sunrise shares delisted from the SIX Swiss Exchange, with the company expected to become a wholly-owned subsidiary within the Liberty Global group.

Mike Fries, CEO, Liberty Global, said: “Today marks another important step in our strategy of creating leading national fixed-mobile champions across Europe. By bringing together UPC’s leading gigabit broadband network and the most advanced 5G network of Sunrise, the combined company will provide seamless connectivity for millions of Swiss consumers and thousands of Swiss businesses.”

The acquisition also represents a remarkable about-face. Less than a year ago, Liberty Global was gearing up to exit the Swiss market altogether, agreeing a CHF6.3 billion (€5.67 billion) deal to sell UPC to Sunrise in February 2019.

This however was a far more protracted process, and was eventually cancelled by Sunrise after a revolt from Freenet, the largest shareholder in the operator. The botched deal resulted in Sunrise Switzerland CEO Olaf Swantee resigning from his role while Chairman Peter Kurer and vice chair Peter Schöpfer also announced that they would not run for re-election.