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)
Thu, Jul. 16, 10:22 AM
- Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) is up 1.4% as JPMorgan restarts coverage of the stock at an Overweight rating.
- The firm set a price target of $55; shares closed yesterday at $51.74.
- Goldman Sachs has added the company to its Conviction Buy list while it bumped down possible asset-swap/merger partner Vodafone.
- The stock's now up 7.1% over the past five days; YTD it's up just 4.5%.
Wed, Jul. 15, 10:12 AM
- Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) is 1.1% lower as Goldman Sachs removes it from its Pan-Europe Buy List, downgrading the stock to Neutral from Buy.
- The firm has a price target of 250 pence, down from 275 pence; shares are trading down 1% in London at 235.55 pence.
- Amid recent talk about an asset swap with Liberty Global (LBTYA +0.5%), Goldman's Tim Boddy sees the risk/reward profile as "more binary" with Vodafone still set to benefit from "'double' consolidation of both mobile and fixed-mobile operators ... We see attractive operational gearing to this growth recovery given its low margins."
- M&A is still a very valid option and if management reconsiders its structure, "we believe a number of other potential acquirers could take interest in its remaining assets," he says.
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%.
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)
Thu, Jun. 4, 5:57 PM
- Following on John Malone's "great fit" comment, Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) is up 4.7% after hours as Bloomberg reports the company's talking with Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD), up 4.2% now in late trading, about a range of transactions including a straightforward merger -- which would be one of the largest deals ever on enterprise value.
- Management issues may be a hurdle (to be expected in any discussions involving the role of billionaire Malone), and Liberty has reportedly soured a bit on the talks recently.
- Aside from a merger, though, the companies could merge their European business or conduct a series of asset swaps.
- Liberty Global is the largest cable company in the world, with an enterprise value of about $89B. Vodafone has an EV of about $141B.
- A European asset merger would likely mean that Vodafone looks at spinning off Middle East/Africa operations.
- Previously: Vodafone-Liberty still good strategy, but not a slam dunk (Jun. 02 2015)
- Previously: Vodafone stakeholders: More open to Liberty tie-up (May. 28 2015)
- Previously: Vodafone jumps on Malone comments (May. 20 2015)
- Previously: Liberty's Malone: Combo with Vodafone would be 'great fit' (May. 19 2015)
Fri, May 22, 10:18 AM
- Vodafone ADRs (NASDAQ:VOD) are up 1.7% (and shares up 4.4% in London) as Goldman Sachs reports after meeting with company management that Vodafone may sell some assets.
- With Vodafone moving up this week (ADRs +7.4% since Tuesday) on John Malone's comments that his Liberty Global (LBTYA +2.4%) and Vodafone could be a "great fit," Goldman's Tim Boddy says Vodafone "is willing to consider both acquisitions and disposals where the financial rationale makes sense" and "may be more likely a seller than a buyer of assets."
- He attributed that to Liberty's preference for tax efficiency vs. Vodafone's preference for dividends -- part of stylistic differences that Malone himself alluded to: "Their philosophy is low leverage, low risk and high cash payout to their shareholders. I prefer to grow equity value."
Tue, May 19, 6:08 PM
- Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA) rose into today's close, +2.3%, as telecom titan John Malone says a combination of his firm and Vodafone (VOD -0.9%) would be a "great fit" with "very substantial synergies if we could find a way to work together or combine the companies with respect to Western Europe."
- Malone was making his first public comments on a combination in an interview with Bloomberg, though he wouldn't comment on whether the companies were talking. A tie-up would create a telecom behemoth, between Liberty's $45B in market value and Vodafone's $93B.
- Citigroup has said a stock-based combination could generate synergies of £1.4B/year in free cash flow. But Malone is aware of philosophical differences in approach: “Their philosophy is low leverage, low risk and high cash payout to their shareholders. I prefer to grow equity value.”
- Liberty has been acquisitive in Europe and is also seeking targets in faster-growing South America, and Mexico -- a market Malone considers most attractive.
- Previously: Vodafone -3.8% following signs of life in FQ4 earnings (May. 19 2015)
Tue, Feb. 17, 7:34 PM
- Along with the release of form 13Fs comes news of purchases and sales of stakes in European mega-cableco Liberty Global (LBTYA).
- Coatue bought 1.4M shares to raise its stake in Liberty 34%, to 5.6M shares.
- Tiger Consumer sold 25% of its stake, leaving it with 1.5M shares.
- Today: LBTYA +0.7%, LBTYK +1.1%.
Fri, Feb. 13, 10:12 AM
- European cable giant Liberty Global (LBTYA) will pay €183.5M (about $209M) to a pair of companies who had raised issues with Liberty's €3B purchase of KabelBW.
- Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY) and NetCologne will withdraw litigation that might have led to the unwinding of the 2012 deal. German competition regulators have OK'd the arrangement after forcing another look at the purchase in 2013.
- Liberty class A shares are up 2.3% on the news on heavy volume so far.
Nov. 28, 2014, 1:07 PM
- Bloomberg reports Vodafone (VOD +2.6%) is exploring a "combination" with European cable giant Liberty Global (LBTYA +7.4%). Liberty has soared on the news.
- Liberty operates in 14 countries (12 in Europe), passes 52M homes, and claims 27M customers and trailing annual revenue of $20B. Vodafone has already acquired Spanish and German cable giants ONO and Kabel Deutschland, and has declared it wants to offer mobile/wireline bundles throughout Europe.
- Earlier: UBS upgrades Vodafone
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