The French group iliad could soon become one of the leading players in Poland’s electronic communications market.
Having acquired the telco Play for €2.2 billion late last year, it has recently lodged a non-binding offer to buy a 100% stake in UPC Polska for around €1.6 billion.
UPC Polska is currently Poland’s second largest cable operator in terms of subscriber numbers, having lost top spot to Vectra following the latter’s acquisition of Multimedia Polska in Q1 2020. Although it continues to perform well, claiming 1,535,400 customers and a giga network that reaches 3 million households as of the end of this June, it finds itself one of Liberty Global’s only two remaining operations in CEE following the sale of those in Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic to Vodafone. As such, and given Liberty Global’s strategy, it seems only a matter of time before it, and its sister operation UPC Slovakia, are also sold.
Enter iliad, which looks like an ideal buyer for UPC Polska. Its founder Xavier Niel, who is also the main shareholder, made a full takeover offer for the French company at the end of last month with a view to delisting it. In a statement he said that “our ambition for iliad is to accelerate its growth to make it a leading telecommunications player in Europe”. This is likely to be easier to achieve with him fully in control.
Should Liberty accept the offer for UPC Polska, iliad would secure a large fixed-line business to supplement Play, which is Poland’s largest mobile operator and also has a presence in its TV industry. It would also become one of the three leading converged players alongside Orange and Cyfrowy Polsat.
While the consequences of this is a subject of debate among local industry experts and analysts, one thing they seem to be agreed on is that the transaction would be unlikely to encounter any regulatory concerns.
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