Liberty extends its global reach with Ziggo deal

Marion Dakers
LIBERTY Global cemented its latest push into Europe yesterday with a long-awaited takeover bid for Dutch cable operator Ziggo, which values the firm at €10bn (£8.25bn).

Liberty said the deal represents a 38 per cent premium to Ziggo’s share price on 18 March, the day before the US media giant began its pursuit by taking a 28.5 per cent stake in the firm.

Ziggo’s board, which rejected a preliminary offer in October as too low, said yesterday they are recommending the deal to shareholders.

The purchase will give Liberty a bigger platform to cross-sell in the Netherlands, where Ziggo together with Liberty-owned cable company UPC will reach around 90 per cent of the country’s homes.

Liberty said it expects to make €120m in annual cost savings by combining the businesses.

The firm, chaired by billionaire John Malone, has made a string of acquisitions in Europe in recent years, including the £15bn purchase of Virgin Media and a majority stake in Belgian cable provider Telenet.

Liberty bowed out of a fight to buy Kabel Deutschland last year, after Vodafone made a better offer for the German internet and cable group.

Shares in Ziggo fell 2.9 per cent to €32.30, compared to an implied cash-and-shares offer price of €34.53.



LIBERTY Global’s takeover of Ziggo has been almost a year in the making, with bankers and lawyers on both sides of the Atlantic and throughout Europe drafted in to work on the deal.

Ziggo turned to JP Morgan, which is fielding a sizeable team led by David Lomer, the bank’s co-head of telecoms, media and technology investment banking in EMEA.

Lomer is well-versed in Liberty’s dealmaking style, having worked with Virgin Media during its takeover by John Malone’s firm last year. He also advised Ziggo during its 2012 initial public offering.

Perella Weinberg Partners is also advising Ziggo, as is law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, led by Jan Willem van der Staay, a partner in Freshfields’ Amsterdam office.

On Liberty’s side, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley are advising.

Adrian Mee, head of international M&A for BAML, is part of the team, as is co-head of EMEA media and telecoms, Emmanuel Hibou.

Joining them is Marco Pugliese, a director in the EMEA M&A business, and Benelux managing director David Dijkhuis.

Allen & Overy is on hand to offer legal advice.