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Liberty Global, Inc. (LBTYK)

  • 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 ddecide 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!
  • Thu, Jul. 9, 5:29 PM
    • There's been little news coming out of secretive Sun Valley -- where media moguls gather at the Allen & Co. conference for "summer camp" and sometimes rearrange billions of dollars with game-changing M&A -- but John Malone today dropped more hints about content consolidation.
    • While media distribution companies have more obvious benefits from consolidation, Malone -- who has hands in Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA), Liberty Media (NASDAQ:LMCA), Liberty Interactive (NASDAQ:QVCA), Charter (NASDAQ:CHTR) and Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) -- said economies can apply to content too.
    • "It's all about global scale," he told CNBC. "If you want to be a meaningful player in most of any of these media communication businesses, you have to think about it."
    • And while speculation boils about a tie-up between Malone's Starz (STRZA) and Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF) after the two swapped stock, Malone focused on the educational side: "I'm an engineer; what the hell do I know about content? Trying to understand where these ideas come from, how they get created and produced. The development of stories is really going to be important in this random-access world that Reed Hastings (NASDAQ:NFLX) is driving us into."
    • Malone said Netflix changed the game, and that his companies "missed the boat a little bit" on over-the-top offerings.
    • Today: NFLX +2.4%; LGF +0.9%; QVCA +0.3%; CHTR +0.2%.
    | Thu, Jul. 9, 5:29 PM | 8 Comments
  • Wed, Jul. 8, 11:58 PM
    • Europe is leading the world in telecoms moving to "quad-play" bundling -- adding wireless to fixed-line telephones, broadband and pay TV -- which should mean a big opportunity for firms to drive margin improvement and build some competitive moats, says Morningstar's Allan Nichols.
    • Both in-country consolidations and convergence mergers are helping build moats, he says -- the latter because it tends to lower churn as people subscribe to more services. And with lower churn, companies can lower subscriber acquisition cost.
    • His favorites in the space: Telefonica (NYSE:TEF), already a leader in triple-play and convergence in Spain and Brazil; Orange (NYSE:ORAN), leading a fiber buildout in France; and Millicom International Cellular (OTCPK:MIICF), with a high organic growth rate but low EV/EBITDA.
    • About 16% of Virgin Media customers were taking four services when it was acquired by Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) in summer 2013, which Nichols thinks was a key factor. Liberty is now offering wireless services as an MVNO in several markets, and has agreed to buy Royal KPN's (OTCPK:KKPNY) wireless business Base.
    • From the wireless direction, Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) is also acquiring assets to offer other services, particularly after it bought Cable & Wireless Worldwide in the UK, and later Kabel Deutschland in Germany.
    • Europe would benefit from more cross-border mergers, Nichols says, but they're unlikely due to political constraints, and German cable consolidation is likely to run into regulatory opposition as well.
    | Wed, Jul. 8, 11:58 PM | Comment!
  • Wed, Jun. 24, 10:32 AM
    • European cable leader Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) is going to look for growth in the 12 continental markets it already occupies, CEO Michael Fries tells Germany's Handelsblatt, even as the company has acknowledged discussing asset swaps with Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD).
    • "There are not many more markets, like Scandinavia, where we are not active," Fries said. "Spain, Portugal and France do not interest us."
    • The asset swap talks have focused on Liberty's and Vodafone's two key overlapping markets -- the UK and Germany -- but the UK is Vodafone's home and Liberty's largest market, while Germany is Vodafone's biggest sales market.
    • Meanwhile, in Germany, Fries hinted Liberty could swallow up more ground -- "We could certainly look at these," companies like Telecolumbus, Pepcom or Primacom.
    • But he said it didn't need to buy assets to grow in its existing markets. "Our networks reach 50 million households in Europe. However, only 25 million households are customers of ours so far. We can tap the others without great additional costs."
    • Previously: Vodafone, Liberty merger "far more attractive" than asset swap: Nomura (Jun. 23 2015)
    • Previously: Liberty Global, Vodafone see better rules environment for swaps (Jun. 12 2015)
    | Wed, Jun. 24, 10:32 AM | 3 Comments
  • Fri, Jun. 12, 9:19 AM
    • As Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) and Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) talk about swapping assets in Europe, both companies think increased telecom competition has made Europe's regulators more relaxed about consolidation issues.
    • "We see that big telecoms providers are allowed to merge," Manuel Cubero, chief executive of Vodafone's Kabel Deutschland told Reuters in Germany. "We see that politicians support this trend in order to strengthen the ability of companies to invest."
    • Germany is one epicenter of the swaps discussion as the two companies have heavy overlap in the region. It's Vodafone's largest market by sales and likely hopes to get Liberty cable operations there in any swap -- "The more we grow, the better we can compete with Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY) in broadband," says Cubero -- but neither firm may be willing to part with UK business.
    • "The Commission's view of consolidation in the telecom sector in Europe has changed," says Lutz Schueler, head of Liberty's German business Unitymedia.
    • Vodafone's Kabel Deutschland and Liberty's Unitymedia are the No. 1 and No. 2 cable operators in Germany respectively. The country has 29.6M broadband connections, but 23.3M of those are via phone lines and more than half of those controlled by Deutsche Telekom.
    | Fri, Jun. 12, 9:19 AM | 2 Comments
  • Tue, Jun. 9, 3:28 PM
    • Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) CEO Michael Fries was quiet about Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) in particular, but did say that mobile services were an important growth driver that the company needed to add to its older fixed-line and Internet services.
    • It's all about getting into the "quad-play" -- being able to offer bundles with TV, Intenet, landline and mobile phone service -- a trend that is helping drive consolidation across the telecom industry.
    • The quad-play bundle is "an important piece of the puzzle," Fries says. “We see in the U.K. and Belgium that customers become more sticky."
    • Liberty probably wouldn't buy a mobile operator in the UK, though, he said, and in most other markets it's more efficient to rent mobile capacity than to buy it.
    • The company has been in asset-swap talks with Vodafone that are likely hinging on European assets, as there are cost synergies to gain even though an outright merger would be difficult to impossible considering their size.
    • The size also means that Liberty's not a takeover target, Fries says: “We are absolutely not vulnerable, in terms of becoming a target against our own will ... We have great organic growth. There are no deals we need to do to be successful.”
    • Previously: Vodafone -2.2% after dampening Liberty merger talk (Jun. 05 2015)
    • Previously: Liberty Global up 4.7%, Vodafone up 4.2% on report of merger talks (Jun. 04 2015)
    | Tue, Jun. 9, 3:28 PM | Comment!
  • Fri, Jun. 5, 11:39 AM
    • Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) is off 2.2% today after clarifying that it is talking with Liberty Global (LBTYA +1.3%), but about asset swaps instead of an outright merger.
    • A merger would be difficult considering the size of both companies; it would be one of the largest deals ever on enterprise value. But where would asset swaps happen?
    • Swaps would be best where the overlap is heavy: in Germany, the UK and the Netherlands. But neither company seems likely to give up on the UK, Thao Hua notes. It's Liberty's largest market (and where it draws a chunk of tax benefits), and Vodafone's home. Meanwhile, Germany is Vodafone's biggest sales market.
    • "I do not think Malone wants to exit any of U.K., Germany or Netherlands," Wunderlich's Matthew Harrigan says.
    • Meanwhile, Macquarie's Amy Yong and Guy Peddy point out that "neither Vodafone nor Liberty Global have any track record of integrating wireless and cable TV assets." They had previously described a "more rational" deal for Vodafone would be tying up with Sky (OTCQX:SKYAY) in a content play.
    • They add: "Any deal with Liberty Global would in our view result in a transfer of value from Vodafone to Liberty Global."
    • Previously: Liberty Global up 4.7%, Vodafone up 4.2% on report of merger talk (Jun. 04 2015)
    • Previously: Vodafone-Liberty still good strategy, but not a slam dunk (Jun. 02 2015)
    | Fri, Jun. 5, 11:39 AM | 3 Comments
  • Fri, Jun. 5, 3:50 AM
    • Putting an end to the speculation, Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) has confirmed it has held talks with Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) to exchange some of their businesses in Europe, but said it was "not in discussions concerning a combination of the two companies."
    • Liberty broke cover on its interest in exploring a potential merger two weeks ago after chairman John Malone pointed to "substantial synergies" should it merge with Vodafone.
    • Previously: Liberty Global up 4.7%, Vodafone up 4.2% on report of merger talk (Jun. 04 2015)
    | Fri, Jun. 5, 3:50 AM | 1 Comment
  • Thu, Jun. 4, 5:57 PM
    | Thu, Jun. 4, 5:57 PM | 2 Comments
LBTYK vs. ETF Alternatives
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