UPC Polska’s acquisition by the French group iliad is significant on a number of levels.
For the vendor Liberty Global, it marks yet another stage in its exit from Central and Eastern Europe, having sold its operations in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania to Vodafone in July 2019. It is now only left with UPC Slovakia, which is also likely to find itself with a new owner in the not-too-distant future.
For iliad, on the other hand, buying UPC Polska will significantly strengthen its presence on the Polish market, which it entered in late 2020 through the acquisition of the telco Play for €2.2 billion. Although it paid less (€1.52 billion) for UPC Polska, the two companies have huge synergies and going forward will become a force to be reckoned with.
All this seems a far cry to only a handful of years ago, when UPC Polska, then the leading cable operator in Poland, was on the brink of buying the number three operator Multimedia Polska. However, concerns raised by the competition authority UOKiK made the then Liberty Global owned company withdraw its offer and opened the way for Vectra, the second largest operator, to step in and eventually take over Multimedia Polska.
Although this was undoubtedly a huge blow for Liberty Global, UPC Polska continued to grow and innovate. This included becoming the first Liberty operation in Europe to make the UPC 4K TV box available to its subscribers, expanding its Giga network and introducing 5G services. Indeed, 2021, as the company reported this February, was a record-breaking final year under Liberty Global’s ownership. It ended with the operator’s 1,569,400 customers using 3,346,300 of its digital services, and revenues 3.5% higher than in 2020.
Now, in combination with Play, its aim will be “to redefine convergence for the benefit of the customer”.
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