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Liberty Global, Inc.NASDAQ
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  • Thu, Nov. 17, 11:59 AM
    • The day after Vodafone's (VOD +1.2%) CEO suggested at a Barcelona conference that regulators might now be more favorable to a strategic tie-up with Liberty Global (LBTYA +3.4%), Liberty put some water on that suggestion at the Morgan Stanley gathering.
    • Asked whether the two companies' merging of Dutch operations could provide a template for more/bigger deals, Liberty CEO Mike Fries says "Hard to say, (but) I would probably say not."
    • The Netherlands arrangement was a "unique situation" and the two companies aren't currently talking about more, he said.
    • "We were bigger then them in this market," he says. "So for us it was a net cash-out deal. It was a small market, (so) a good way to get to know each other."
    | Thu, Nov. 17, 11:59 AM | 1 Comment
  • Wed, Nov. 16, 6:28 PM
    • After its attempt at bigger collaboration in Europe failed last winter, Vodafone (VOD +0.4%) says continental regulators might look more favorably on a deal it could arrive at with Liberty Global (LBTYA +3%) now.
    • "The European Commission has clearly indicated that they like the idea of stronger competitors to former incumbents," CEO Vittorio Colao said at Morgan Stanley's conference in Barcelona.
    • The two companies agreed in February to merge their Dutch operations via a joint venture; that followed the breakdown of talks over a bigger European asset swap last fall.
    • Despite that, many analysts say the reasoning behind getting the two together is still there. And Colao says incumbent telecoms are still powerful.
    • "They see that in each country there is a KPN, a Telecom Italia, a Deutsche Telekom, a BT, that are at the end of the day still incredibly, I would not want to use the word dominant, but let's say influential. And you want a counter force, and we could be that counter force," he said.
    | Wed, Nov. 16, 6:28 PM | 1 Comment
  • Fri, Nov. 4, 10:18 AM
    • Vodafone (VOD -0.3%) has sold its fixed-line operations in the Netherlands to T-Mobile Nederland (OTCQX:DTEGY -0.9%).
    • That's part of a concession it made to EU regulators in order to secure approval for its bigger merger -- of its operations in the country with Ziggo, the Dutch unit of Liberty Global (LBTYA +2.1%).
    • Europe in early August signed off on the deal, which will create a stronger competitor to Dutch incumbent Royal KPN (OTCPK:KKPNY -1.3%).
    | Fri, Nov. 4, 10:18 AM | 7 Comments
  • Tue, Oct. 18, 6:43 PM
    • Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) is shoring up its lead in Poland, sealing a $760M cash deal to take over the cable business of Multimedia Polska.
    • Multimedia Polska is the No. 3 cable provider in the country, and adding it brings the reach of Liberty's UPC Poland to more than 4M homes and businesses.
    • UPC Poland had passed 3.1M homes (about 20% of households) at the end of June, while Multimedia had passed 1.6M homes. Poland made up 2.2% of Liberty Global's 2015 sales.
    • The deal's expected to close in the next 12 months.
    | Tue, Oct. 18, 6:43 PM
  • Fri, Aug. 12, 2:19 PM
    • As it prepares a merger with the Dutch unit of Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD), Ziggo Group (LBTYA -0.3%) has more than doubled its debt-raising plans, to $3.9B, Bloomberg reports.
    • It now is said to be raising €2.6B (about $2.9B) in a leveraged euro-denominated loan and $1B in a dollar loan.
    • That comes in an environment of higher appetite for risky assets, and an average loan price in Europe of 97.6 cents/euro.
    • Last week, a usually reticent European Commission gave its approval to the merger of Ziggo and Vodafone Netherlands, conditioned on Vodafone selling its fixed-line business there.
    | Fri, Aug. 12, 2:19 PM
  • Wed, Aug. 3, 10:20 AM
    • The European Commission has approved a merger in the Netherlands of Liberty Global's (LBTYA +1.6%) cable firm Ziggo with Vodafone Netherlands (VOD +0.4%), on the condition that Vodafone sell its fixed business.
    • Liberty Global has jumped from an open in the red to positive ground this morning.
    • That makes a strong competitor to incumbent provider Royal KPN (OTCPK:KKPNY). Ziggo is the Netherlands' top cable provider, and Vodafone is the second-largest mobile operator.
    • The two companies had reportedly offered concessions last month to get the deal done, and it appears the EC's main concern was Vodafone's quick expansion in the fixed-line market.
    • In keeping with other such regulatory reviews, the EC denied a request from the Dutch competition regulator to probe the deal but said it consulted with the agency in its review.
    | Wed, Aug. 3, 10:20 AM | 2 Comments
  • Fri, Jul. 29, 12:55 PM
    • Europe is set to sign off on a high-profile merger of Dutch operations between Liberty Global (LBTYA +0.7%) and Vodafone (VOD +0.4%) following some concessions, Reuters reports.
    • That news is coming despite a tough regulatory regime that has scratched potential country mergers elsewhere, including a deal in Denmark between TeliaSonera and Telenor.
    • Liberty and Vodafone offered concessions July 12 to get the deal done, sources told Reuters.
    • The two would form the second-biggest telecom in the Netherlands and present a better competitive face to incumbent Royal KPN (OTCPK:KKPNY).
    | Fri, Jul. 29, 12:55 PM | 2 Comments
  • Fri, Jun. 24, 3:30 PM
    • The UK's vote to leave the EU is slamming European media/telecom firms today -- Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) is down 12.5%, Telecom Italia (NYSE:TI) has shed 19.8%, Telefonica (NYSE:TEF) has dropped 17.6%, BT Group (NYSE:BT) has fallen 18.2% and others have tumbled at least 5% -- but it could have the effect of kiboshing some cued-up M&A, Jefferies says.
    • A much-discussed potential merger between Liberty Global and Vodafone (VOD -6.8%) could get complicated in an already tough antitrust review environment, the firm says.
    • "To the extent that Vodafone is no longer perceived by the EU as a 'European champion' asset to be strengthened as a matter of industrial policy, any prospective acquisition of Liberty Global might receive tougher antitrust scrutiny at the EU level and from Germany," Jefferies writes.
    • Still, Liberty Global is suffering unnecessarily today, the firm suggests -- mainly the "technicality of currency translation" against a noncyclical fundamental business character.
    | Fri, Jun. 24, 3:30 PM | 3 Comments
  • Fri, May 13, 3:30 PM
    • Hutchison (OTCPK:HUWHY) is facing long odds in appealing the EC's decision to block the merger of its Three UK mobile provider with O2 (TEF -0.7%).
    • “I think that the chances of a successful appeal are small – the European Commission has done a thorough job and will have plenty of material to justify its decision," a telecom/M&A lawyer tells CTFN.
    • Even if it were to be successful, an appeal would take at least a year -- and Telefonica may likely go with another suitor, like Liberty Global (LBTYA -1.1%).
    • European tie-ups are being closely watched as the EC has taken a tougher stance on deals under the leadership of Margrethe Vestager. Last year, Sweden's TeliaSonera and Norway's Telenor called off a merger of their Danish operations amid the opposition of Vestager's EC.
    • Now read Telefonica Dividend Reliant On EU Politics Following Mixed Q4 2015 Results »
    | Fri, May 13, 3:30 PM
  • Thu, Apr. 28, 10:47 AM
    • Lions Gate Entertainment (NYSE:LGF) is up 6.9% to its highest point in five weeks on no catalysts other than some peer M&A today, in DreamWorks Animation's $3.8B deal to be acquired by Comcast.
    • Lions Gate has been linked in the past year to heavy merger rumors with John Malone's companies, after Malone's Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) and Discovery Communications (NASDAQ:DISCA) made a strategic deal with the studio -- and then Malone floated public comments regarding a potential tie-up/merger with Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA), in which he also holds an interest.
    • Bloomberg analyst Paul Sweeney figures Comcast's deal price means a multiple of at least 19.5 times DreamWorks Animation's 2016-2017 EBITDA -- which multiple is a 28% premium to Lions Gate, which runs similar TV and movie interests.
    • And Lions Gate may be more attractively valued than during the fall rumors, after a weak fiscal Q3 tanked shares in early February and the studio's recent films, like The Divergent Series: Allegiant, are underperforming.
    • Now read My Top Media And Publishing Stocks For 2016
    | Thu, Apr. 28, 10:47 AM | 1 Comment
  • Tue, Apr. 19, 12:39 PM
    • With a sale of its UK mobile unit O2 to Hutchison (OTCPK:HUWHY) at risk, Telefonica (TEF +3%) is now considering a few "plans B" to reduce heavy debt.
    • That includes trying to merge O2 with another company with mobile interests, like Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) or a private-equity buyer, or even spinning it into a British IPO, Bloomberg reports.
    • A deal of about £10.3B ($14.6B) to combine O2 with Hutchison's Three UK would go a long way toward cutting €49.9B ($56.5B) in debt. And Telefonica still prefers that as the "cleanest" option to reduce investor uncertainty.
    • The deal's at risk while Hutchison considers even more concessions, as the EC reportedly prefers the creation of a fourth operator in the UK out of the transaction, rather than simply reinforcing smaller MVNOs. Hutchison may be prepared to go to court instead, saying unloading a (changed) O2 or Three to someone else undermines the rationale for the combination.
    • Now read Telefonica Dividend Reliant On EU Politics Following Mixed Q4 2015 Results »
    | Tue, Apr. 19, 12:39 PM
  • Mon, Mar. 14, 12:03 PM
    • Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF), frequently the subject of merger rumors of late, could get pushed into a deal by activists who have been ramping up stakes in the indie studio.
    • Alibaba and Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) are linked by analysts as possible suitors with an eye to building up content stores, The Deal notes.
    • Jana Partners and Barry Rosenstein lifted their share of the studio to 5.7% last month, making it No. 3 among outside shareholders. And Eminence Capital has built a stake near 1%. Canadian companies such as Lions Gate require only a 5% stake to requisition a special shareholder meeting to press board changes.
    • As usual, John Malone is the X-factor, with a distinct interest over the past year in what happens to Lions Gate. Last fall, Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) and Discovery Communications (NASDAQ:DISCA) entered a long-term strategic deal with the studio (Malone has large stakes in those two, along with a 3.4% LGF stake taken in February). And he had floated an LGF tie-up with Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA), in which he also holds a stake among others.
    • Another likely merger appeal: With a Vancouver base, Lions Gate could serve as part of a tax inversion deal.
    | Mon, Mar. 14, 12:03 PM
  • Tue, Mar. 1, 4:58 PM
    • Hutchison (OTCPK:HUWHY) is headed to a closed-door meeting with EU regulators to address objections to its £10.3B deal to buy out rival telecom O2 (TEF +4.3%), Reuters reports.
    • The company will meet with the European Commission on March 7, along with rivals Sky (OTCQX:SKYAY +2.4%), Virgin Media (LBTYA +2.8%), TalkTalk (OTC:TKTCY), Vodafone (VOD +3.1%) and BT Group (BT +3.4%). Iliad (OTCPK:ILIAY +2.5%), the small provider owned by French billionaire Xavier Niel, could also take part.
    • The long-in-the-works deal has generated plenty of heat, as the combination of Hutchison's Three UK (the country's No. 4 wireless provider) with Telefonica's O2 (the No. 2 provider) would create the country's largest, reducing the market to three major competitors.
    • When the EC opened a full probe into the deal in October, the move suggested that heavy concessions were likely on the way to make the deal happen -- and they may include creating a smaller competitor. (TalkTalk has said it would love to help.)
    • The UK tried to take over the probe, but the EC rejected that request and kept control of the deal investigation in early December.
    • After hours: TEF -4.2%; LBTYA, VOD, BT flat.
    • Previously: Europe rejects UK's effort to examine Three's O2 buyout (Dec. 04 2015)
    • Previously: Europe opens full probe into Telefonica-Hutchison UK mobile merger (Oct. 30 2015)
    | Tue, Mar. 1, 4:58 PM
  • Tue, Feb. 16, 1:03 AM
    • Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) and Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) are merging Dutch operations in a joint venture, in a bit of an appetizer before what could be a broader combination of operations in the future.
    • It's a big appetizer, though -- the 50/50 venture is valued at more than €19B -- and the companies said discussions around the Netherlands venture haven't ranged into any other areas.
    • The venture will sell mobile and cable under both companies' brands (Ziggo and Vodafone), and Vodafone will pay €1B as part of the deal to equalize their ownership.
    • It will have more than 15M revenue-generating units, and the companies expect after the deal closes later this year that they'll see cost and revenue synergies of €3.5B (and €350M in integration costs).
    | Tue, Feb. 16, 1:03 AM | 1 Comment
  • Tue, Feb. 2, 9:49 AM
    • Vodafone (VOD -2%) and Liberty Global (LBTYA -0.5%) are back and talking about possible asset swaps again, after talks about trades in Europe (and maybe a merger?) fell apart last year, Bloomberg reports.
    • Sources said the talks restarted since the beginning of 2016 and could include asset swaps and co-investments in "several" European countries.
    • Again, though, talks are likely to center on the Netherlands (where Liberty wants to grow) and the UK and Germany, the largest markets for the two.
    • After gaining earlier in London, shares are down 1.6% there and ADRs are off 2% on a day where the broader U.S. market is off to a rough start.
    | Tue, Feb. 2, 9:49 AM | 2 Comments
  • Fri, Jan. 29, 1:52 AM
    • Today is when longtime UK incumbent telecom BT Group (NYSE:BT) completes its acquisition of EE, the country's largest mobile network, creating a beast that has competitors (particularly mobile-only Vodafone) concerned about market power.
    • That leaves Openreach, the company's fixed-line infrastructure arm, as the hot topic. For months, investors, competitors and politicians have debated whether BT should be forced to spin the company off.
    • At stake is the effect on competition and investment when competitors rely on BT's network as wholesale customers. Rivals say BT's ownership of the network is hurting investment in higher speeds; BT argues the opposite.
    • Analysts now are leaning toward an outcome where BT can keep Openreach, but on Monday, UK politicians urged the company to sell it off.
    • BT chief Gavin Patterson has been forceful on the issue, saying there's no case for splitting it off and warning of a "decade of litigation" if forced to act.
    • Next steps: The UK's Ofcom regulator reports back on a review of Openreach next month.
    • BT's rivals: VOD, LBTYA, OTC:TKTCY, OTCQX:SKYAY
    | Fri, Jan. 29, 1:52 AM