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Liberty Global, Inc. (LBTYK)

  • Yesterday, 6:16 PM
    • Liberty Global (LBTYA -1.8%) can see more expansion coming in Europe, but the company won't pursue growth for growth's sake, says chief Mike Fries.
    • “We’re not motivated by building empires,” Fries says. “We’re motivated by creating value.”
    • Yet as empire-building goes, the company is taking on Caribbean-focused Cable & Wireless (OTCPK:CWIXF) for $8B (including debt), one of well over a dozen $1B-plus acquisitions the company has completed over the past 20 years, with an accumulation of debt to go with that.
    • Its equation could have changed entirely with talks over a massive combination with Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) -- before they turned into talks over an asset swap and ultimately fizzled. "We never say never," says Fries, "but there is nothing happening at the moment."
    • And while John Malone (who holds 24% of voting rights) is known for big dealings, Fries says he leaves the company to pursue its course: “I’ve been chief executive for 10 years and everything we’ve done has been self-created. We have the benefit of [Malone’s] strategic insight and guidance but he is not a puppeteer.”
    • Previously: Liberty Global unit selling customers to pursue OK for Belgian takeover (Nov. 20 2015)
    • Previously: Malone tripling stake in Lions Gate through Discovery, Liberty Global (Nov. 10 2015)
    | Yesterday, 6:16 PM | Comment!
  • Mon, Nov. 16, 2:19 PM
    • Liberty Global (LBTYA -1.7%) agrees to acquire Caribbean cable operator Cable & Wireless Communications (OTCPK:CWIXF +26.8%) in a cash and stock deal valued at $5.3B, extending John Malone’s European cable empire deeper into Latin America.
    • The stock offer is valued at 78.04 pence/share, a 6% premium to Cable & Wireless's Monday closing price of 73.54 pence in London; including a special dividend to be paid when the deal closes, total consideration comes to 81.04 pence/share, which Liberty Global says represents a 40% premium to Cable & Wireless' closing share price on Oct. 21, the day reports stated the companies were in talks.
    • The purchase would give Malone a critical mass in Latin America, where he created the LiLAC (LILAK +2.2%) tracking stock in July for Liberty Global’s assets in Chile and Puerto Rico.
    | Mon, Nov. 16, 2:19 PM | Comment!
  • Wed, Nov. 11, 11:14 AM
    • Private-equity firms are lining up bids for Deutsche Telekom's (OTCQX:DTEGY +1.2%) unit in the Netherlands, with Apax and CVC getting close to final offers, Reuters reports.
    • Bain Capital and Providence are also expected to get involved. The division could be valued at up to €3B.
    • P-E firms may have the inside line on bidding; Xavier Niel's Iliad (OTCPK:ILIAY) or Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) could get involved, though Liberty already competes in the Netherlands with its Ziggo unit and is currently pursuing a purchase of Belgium's Base.
    • DT's operation is behind competitors KPN and Vodafone in the Dutch market.
    | Wed, Nov. 11, 11:14 AM | Comment!
  • Tue, Nov. 3, 11:02 AM
    | Tue, Nov. 3, 11:02 AM | Comment!
  • Wed, Oct. 28, 10:23 AM
    | Wed, Oct. 28, 10:23 AM | Comment!
  • Fri, Oct. 9, 10:06 AM
    • BT Group (BT -0.6%) is keeping up the pressure in its response to a strategic review by UK telecom regulator Ofcom, saying that there's no case for divesting its Openreach wholesale access business -- a move it says would hurt the UK's "digital health" -- and pointing regulators instead toward the dominance of pay-TV rival Sky (OTCQX:SKYAY -0.9%).
    • The regulator is conducting its first strategic review of the sector in 10 years amid some key and rapid change.
    • BT in February agreed to a $19B acquisition of EE, the UK's top mobile firm, raising vocal calls from competitors (especially Vodafone) over network access. Liberty Global (LBTYA +0.3%) and Vodafone (VOD +0.3%) discussed -- and then dropped -- a merger or asset swap in Europe. And the UK's second- and fourth-largest mobile firms are pursuing a $15.7B merger.
    • This summer, a determined BT CEO Gavin Patterson threatened the specter of a decade of litigation over Openreach if the company were forced to unload it. Now it says that the existing "functional separation" of its units has served the UK "exceptionally well over the past decade."
    • Elsewhere, Citigroup today reiterated its Neutral rating on BT Group.
    • Previously: BT Group up as Societe Generale reiterates Buy rating (Sep. 23 2015)
    • Previously: BT Group recommits to 10M homes with ultrafast broadband by 2020 (Sep. 22 2015)
    • Previously: Vodafone, rivals renew call for BT Openreach split (Sep. 21 2015)
    | Fri, Oct. 9, 10:06 AM | Comment!
  • Wed, Oct. 7, 12:45 PM
    • The breakdown of talks over a tie-up with Liberty Global (LBTYA -0.3%) means that Vodafone (VOD -1.1%) and CEO Vittorio Colao will need a more unglamorous strategy of cable and network investments to start paying off.
    • The carrier is now getting calls from bankers to go forward with floating its India mobile business. Management will be focused on running its biggest markets to return to steady growth.
    • "We really need to see an operational turnaround in Europe in this fiscal year," says Axa's Bruno Grandsard. "That is priority number 1, 2, and 3, including the integration of cable assets in Germany and Spain."
    • Vodafone had bought Kabel Deutschland in Germany and Ono in Spain to compete with incumbents in those countries. Germany is Vodafone's biggest sales market, and Kabel Deutschland has been coveted by Liberty Global in talks about European asset swaps.
    • Despite the breakdown of those talks, observers inside and outside Vodafone think Liberty Global will come calling again eventually, possibly a year from now, with the promise of some €20B in cost savings, largely in the UK and Germany.
    | Wed, Oct. 7, 12:45 PM | Comment!
  • Mon, Oct. 5, 1:53 PM
    • Europe's antitrust regulators are taking a closer look at a U.S.-initiated telecom deal, launching a full-scale probe into Liberty Global's (LBTYA +1.4%) bid for Belgium's Base (OTCPK:KKPNY +2.2%) over worries about price hikes.
    • Last month, Liberty was offering up concessions to the European Commission (now tougher than before) in order to seal a $1.5B deal for the Royal KPN operator. The EC had set a decision deadline for today.
    • Now the EC says its early review suggests the deal may reduce competition in Belgium and cut the incentives for Base to offer rivals network access.
    • A final decision on the deal is now due Feb. 18 (and may require more from Liberty to get it done).
    | Mon, Oct. 5, 1:53 PM | Comment!
  • Mon, Sep. 28, 9:39 AM
    • Vodafone (VOD -3.1%) and Liberty Global (LBTYA -3.7%) were among early premarket sliders in telecom today after the two broke off discussions over swapping European assets.
    • The cost of insuring Vodafone's debt dropped the most in nearly four months, and bonds of Liberty Global's units fell to their own records. Virgin Media (a likely Vodafone target) saw its January 2025 bonds slip to 92.8c/euro, lowest since issuance, while Germany's Unitymedia bonds fell 5.1 cents to a record low 84.4 cents.
    • Barclays reiterated its Overweight rating on the shares with a 250-pence price target. Shares are down 3.7% in London to 209.7p, implying a 19% upside in Barclays' target.
    • Previously: Vodafone ends talks with Liberty Global over asset swaps (Sep. 28 2015)
    | Mon, Sep. 28, 9:39 AM | Comment!
  • Mon, Sep. 28, 2:48 AM
    • Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) says it's called off talks with Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) over a swap of assets.
    • Amid rumors of an outright merger earlier this summer, the two confirmed they were talking about swapping some European businesses, but the talks faced challenges from the outset and are over for now.
    • The companies never specified which assets -- though the best fit seemed to be where they had heavy overlap: in Germany, the UK and the Netherlands. But the UK is Liberty's largest market, and Germany is Vodafone's biggest sales market, and it seemed increasingly unlikely the two would bail out of those markets.
    • Liberty had long coveted Vodafone's bigger Kabel Deutschland business, while Vodafone probably was looking at Liberty's Virgin Media.
    • Previously: Vodafone -2.3% as Liberty Global tie-up seems troubled (Sep. 15 2015)
    • Previously: Summer's end may bring resolution for Vodafone, Liberty (Aug. 17 2015)
    | Mon, Sep. 28, 2:48 AM | 5 Comments
  • Mon, Sep. 21, 10:38 AM
    • Vodafone (VOD +0.5%) and other rivals of BT Group (BT -0.3%) have renewed their call for radical reform of the UK telecom market, including a competition investigation and a split of wholesale business Openreach from BT Group proper.
    • In an open letter in the Financial Times, chiefs of Vodafone UK, Sky (OTCQX:SKYAY), TalkTalk (OTC:TKTCY) and Daisy Group claim that British regulator Ofcom has found serious problems in the ownership of the national network by BT Openreach.
    • For its part, BT Group says that it continues to invest billions in Openreach and that the business is exceeding service targets set by Ofcom.
    • Meanwhile, Vodafone's tie-up talks with Liberty Global (LBTYA +0.6%) are snagging over complicated tax arrangements at Liberty and its Virgin Media cable net, The Telegraph reported. The companies have discussed swapping assets, but Liberty reportedly depends on Virgin Media's billions in losses to lower its tax burden.
    | Mon, Sep. 21, 10:38 AM | Comment!
  • Tue, Sep. 15, 9:32 AM
    • Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) is off 2.3% amid the newly tougher regulatory scheme that likely has put a kibosh on a merger with Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA).
    • A shift in approach to the hard line by European Commission competition chief Margrethe Vestager recently got TeliaSonera and Telenor to call off a merger of their Danish operators. And Liberty is offering up fresh concessions in an effort to seal its effort to buy KPN's Belgian operator Base.
    • John Malone is still looking for common ground with Vodafone over some kind of tie-up, he tells Bloomberg, as those talks seem to stall. Discussions about a full merger that initially moved stocks turned to talks over an asset swap in Europe, as Vodafone insists it's not talking about the full deal.
    • "Obviously there’s a price at which Liberty Global could be bought," Malone said. "I don’t believe that that’s likely for the other side to get there -- an outright purchase of the whole company. Other than that, it’s a question of could you figure out some way to live together."
    • Vodafone chief Vittorio Colao should "retire" now that the merger talks have fallen apart, says telecom analyst Neil Campling of Aviate Global. Asset swaps seem unlikely in key markets the UK and Germany, he says. “While we can find reasons to invest in Liberty Global on a standalone basis, the same cannot be said for Vodafone," he says. "What's next? Vittorio, surely, will retire and head for the sunshine/ski slope. He should.”
    • Meanwhile, Vodafone India has begun talks with IBM to renew a 660B-rupee ($1B) outsourcing contract that expires in June. Other vendors, including Wipro, Tata Consultancy, Infosys and Tech Mahindra, could push for the deal.
    | Tue, Sep. 15, 9:32 AM | 1 Comment
  • Tue, Sep. 15, 8:43 AM
    • Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) is offering up concessions to a newly tougher EU antitrust regime in order to win approval for its $1.5B deal for Base, Royal KPN's (OTCPK:KKPNY) Belgian wireless operator.
    • Last week, TeliaSonera and Telenor called off a merger of their Danish operations after a signal that it wouldn't get approved.
    • After reviewing Liberty's proposal, the European Commission will decide by Oct. 5 whether to clear it or investigate.
    • Previously: TeliaSonera, Telenor call off Danish merger as regulators balk (Sep. 11 2015)
    | Tue, Sep. 15, 8:43 AM | Comment!
  • Fri, Sep. 4, 1:44 PM
    | Fri, Sep. 4, 1:44 PM | 4 Comments
  • Mon, Aug. 17, 2:04 PM
    • Amid discussion and plenty of speculation about how or when Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) and Liberty Global (LBTYA +1.2%) are going to get together, some analysts are looking to the coming month for clarity.
    • The timetable might move based on Vodafone's actions for emerging-market assets, and how they are split from European assets.
    • While the two companies confirmed discussions earlier this summer, they squelched talk of an outright purchase/merger, saying instead that they were talking about swapping assets.
    • Nomura's James Britton sees an update coming soon on the negotiations. "The upside for both entities is clear to see and we remain confident that an offer for Vodafone Europe, which leaves Vodafone shareholders with a considerable interest in the premier convergence provider (Liberty) in Europe, will be an enticing prospect for Vodafone's board," he writes. Nomura has been on record saying an outright merger would look more attractive than an asset swap.
    • Though Vodafone has stated the companies are not considering a merger, we do not believe this is necessarily a permanent state of affairs," Citigroup's Simon Weeden wrote last month, saying the "cleanest and lowest risk" path to synergy was via "a full acquisition of Liberty by Vodafone.
    • Previously: Liberty Global, Vodafone see better rules environment for swaps (Jun. 12 2015)
    • Previously: Liberty Global CEO: Need mobile services to complete quad-play (Jun. 09 2015)
    | Mon, Aug. 17, 2:04 PM | 3 Comments
  • Fri, Jul. 31, 11:34 AM
    • Liberty Global (LBTYA +0.7%) has boosted its stake in Britain's biggest free-to-air broadcaster, buying 138.7M shares of ITV (OTCPK:ITVPY +3.7%) to increase its ownership to 9.9%.
    • Liberty assures regulators it doesn't have plans to take over ITV. Last year, though, when it bought 6.4% of the company, it said it didn't intend to increase that stake.
    • “Given ITV's operating and stock price performance, we were able to increase our stake to 9.9% with no incremental investment by hedging our existing equity position,” says Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries.
    • ITV shares closed up 3.2% in London trading.
    • Previously: Financial Times: Liberty Global discussing purchase of Ireland's TV3 (Jun. 23 2015)
    | Fri, Jul. 31, 11:34 AM | Comment!
Company Description
Liberty Global PLC through its subsidiaries provides video, broadband internet, fixed-line telephony and mobile services across 14 countries.
Sector: Services
Industry: CATV Systems
Country: United States