Liberty Global, the international MSO headed by media mogul John Malone, could be on the prowl for a major expansion as a trio of M&A opportunities have come to light in recent weeks.
Liberty Global already is the largest international cable operator, with systems in 14 countries that pass more that 31 million homes. But according to a report Wednesday from Pivotal Research Group principal and media & communications analyst Jeff Wlodarczak, LGI is a leading candidate to substantially increase that presence with one possible target being KBW, the third largest operator in Germany. KBW has already entered the auction process and is expected to attract a price of $3.5 billion. Press reports have put LGI as among several bidders interested in the company, including Kabel Deutschland, the largest MSO in Germany.
Another potentially larger deal could be with Dutch MSO Ziggo. Combining LGI's Netherlands operations with the No. 1 Dutch cable operator would create a dominant force in the country (9 million RGUs) but could come at a hefty price ($9 billion, according to Wlodarczak's estimates). Another smaller deal - for Belgium's Numericable - could cost about $200 million and would fit in nicely with LGI's existing systems in that country. He added LGI also could look to sell some non-core properties, including its stake in Australian MSO Austar and systems in Romania and Austria.
"2011 could be a busy year on the acquisition and disposition front," Wlodarczak wrote.
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