Liberty Global has reached an agreement to buy 100% of Aster, the Polish cable operator currently owned by Mid Europa Partners (MEP), for a fee of PLN870 million, equivalent to $292 million (€217.6 million) at December 3, 2010 exchange rates. The deal will further strengthen UPC as the market leader in Poland’s cable industry, where Aster has until now been the fourth largest player behind UPC, Vectra and Multimedia Polska.
In a statement, Liberty said that the purchase price, together with Aster’s adjusted net debt as of September 30, 2010 of around PLN1,530 million (€382.1 million), represents total consideration before transaction costs of around PLN2,400 million.
The transaction, which is expected to be funded with liquidity available to Liberty, including cash on hand and available debt capacity, will require regulatory approval and is expected to close in H1 2011.
Aster had 368,000 TV (including 92,000 digital), 177,000 internet and 70,000 fixed telephony subscribers as of the end of September this year. It has officially been on the market since the summer.
The deal marks the second major disposal of MEP TV assets in the CEE region in a week, the investment fund having also decided to sell its Total TV satellite operation in Croatia to the Austrian utility company BEWAG.
Significantly, Vectra has issued a statement in which it says that also put in a bid for Aster, with the help of financial institutions, among them international banks. However, the deadline it gave for its offer expired.
Vectra adds that it will continue to expand through organic growth and acquisitions.