RealTime IT News

Liberty Media, Klesch to Make German Broadband Acquisition

[London, ENGLAND] Liberty Media Corporation and London-based private equity firm Klesch & Company announced Friday their intention to purchase Deutsche Telekom's remaining broadband cable assets in Germany.

The news follows the announcement that Liberty Media is to invest up to US $1.4 billion cash in UnitedGlobalCom, and it commitment to a US $910 million rights offering to shareholders of its European subsidiary, United Pan-Europe Communications.

The Liberty Media-Klesch partnership has agreed to take 55 percent of the equity, plus an option for an additional 20 percent, in regional cable operations that have a total of over 10 million homes connected.

The regions are Hamburg/Schleswig-Holstein/Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Sachsen/Sachsen-Anhalt/Thuringen, Niedersachsen/Bremen, Rheinland-Pfalz/Saarland, Berlin/Brandenburg and Bavaria.

The partnership will also acquire part of level 4 operator Deutsche Telekom Kabel Service GmbH (DeTeKS) to serve the regional operations, plus the whole of Deutsche Telekom's holding in MediaServices GmbH (MSG) which operates the digital platform in Germany.

When the deals are complete, Colorado-based Liberty Media will be the largest investor in European cable TV.

No further details were available early Friday, with a conference scheduled for the afternoon to discuss all the implications of Liberty Media's big news day.

Deutsche Telekom's sale of its regional broadband interests has come after a long battle with the European Commission. The EC had objected to the German carrier's dominant position in access infrastructure in Germany. Subsequently, Deutsche Telekom sold 65 percent of its cable franchise in Hesse -- again to a Klesch-led consortium -- and 55 percent of the North Rhine-Westphalia unit to a consortium led by Callahan Associates International.

Like the other large European telcos, Deutsche Telekom has been struggling to reduce a massive debt burden, having spent over US $70 billion last year on 3G licenses and various acquisitions. Earlier this week it registered to sell US $2 billion of stock in Sprint Corp.

Liberty Media now has interests in a huge range of media businesses, from Time Warner and QVC, to TV Guide, Motorola, and The News Corporation. In its prosectus for spinning off from AT&T it valued its business at US $38.4 billion.