Tele Columbus, Germany’s third-largest cable operator, is a candidate being looked at, Mike Fries, president and CEO of Liberty Global, confirmed in an interview with German stock market magazine Börsen-Zeitung. However, “besides the price, what’s important to us is not least the question how the cartel office Bundeskartellamt would view such a further consolidation step,” stressed Fries.
He said that he hopes the cartel office realises that competition has become more intense. This would also be the case in the business with housing associations where Liberty Global is faced with competition from Deutsche Telekom. At the opening panel of the recent cable, satellite and broadband trade fair ANGA COM 2014 in Cologne Fries also said that he sees the need for further consolidation as the cable industry “struggles with a lack of scale”.
Tele Columbus is in the hands of its creditors and rumoured to prepare an IPO on the stock market. The takeover of the company by market leader Kabel Deutschland failed due to concerns by the cartel office in 2013.
Fries said that Germany was the most important market in Europa and that a sale of Liberty Global’s subsidiary Unitymedia Kabel BW to Vodafone which recently purchased Kabel Deutschland was “unlikely”. With liquid assets of more than $8 billion (€6 billion), Liberty Global would be well positioned for mergers and acquisitions, stated Fries, adding that the company would focus on strengthening its position in markets in which it is already present.