VOO, a consortium of Brutélé and ALE, is to acquire the other eight cable operators in the French-speaking half of Belgium in a deal worth at least €475 million. The operators are controlled by the municipalities in partnership with utility company Electrabel, now owned by France’s Suez.
Attempts to create a single Walloon triple-play provider, such as the Flemish Telenet, have previously failed. In 2004 Luxembourg operator Altice one made a €196 million bid for the networks.
Telenet was also looking to acquire the operators to consolidate them into one operator for Wallonia. It was excluded from further negotiations in September of last year, upon which it unsuccessfully filed a complaint against the bidding procedures. As there was no formal sale there was nothing to appeal the ‘Raad van State’ appeals body ruled. Telenet is likely to appeal the final deal that is expected to close this week.
The risk of having to pay a compensation fee to Telenet is reportedly a calculated part of the deal.
From the beginning it seemed clear that a ‘Walloon solution’ was being preferred, Telenet is controlled by US-led Liberty Global.
The eight operators serve approximately 650,000 households in 180 out of 262 municipalities in Wallonia, ALE has 312,367 subscribers, Brutélé has a further 291,109 subs. The operators are expected to merge bringing the grand to total to well over 1.2 million households.