The deal, which values the company at PLN3 billion (approximately $760 million), may see the final purchase lowered, depending on the operational and financial performance of Multimedia prior to closing. Financed through a combination of incremental debt borrowings and cash on hand, it will be subject to customary conditions, including regulatory approval, and is expected to close within the next 12 months.
Multimedia’s non-cable interests, which include insurance, gas and energy operations, will be retained by its current shareholders.
Liberty already owns UPC Polska, Poland’s largest cable company. Taken together, it and Multimedia’s operations pass over 4 million homes and business.
Commenting on the deal, Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global, said: “This acquisition will significantly increase our scale in Poland, where we are already the largest cable operator. It will also enhance our ability to invest in cutting-edge products and services for Polish consumers and businesses that will help drive organic growth across our enlarged footprint of over four million premises. Upon closing of the transaction, we will begin upgrading the Multimedia network, after which Multimedia’s customers will be able to enjoy superfast broadband speeds and our next- generation video service Horizon TV.”
Broadband TV News notes that the possible acquisition of Multimedia by Liberty has been rumoured in Poland for a number of months. Speaking to Broadband TV News at Cable Congress in Warsaw in June, Jerzy Straszewski, the president of the Polish Chamber of Electronic Communications (PIKE), said that would be unlikely to have a major impact on the country’s cable industry.
However, we note that once completed it will leave Liberty in a much stronger position in the Polish cable market, with the only other operators of significant size being Vectra, currently the number two player, Toya and Inea.
Significantly, it should also be borne in mind that the last time Liberty undertook a major cable acquisition in Poland – Aster in 2012 – it took around a year to close, with the competition authorities imposing stiff conditions, including the onward sale of some of the assets to a third, independent party.