Bresnan Buys Liberty Int'l Holdings


Liberty Media Corp. said Monday that it has sold a portion of its international cable holdings to a new entity controlled by cable pioneer Bill Bresnan.

According to a press release, BCI International Investments LLC acquired a 21 percent indirect ownership interest in certain subsidiaries that control all or a portion of Liberty's interests in Telewest Communications plc, Chorus Communications plc and UnitedGlobalCom Inc. (UGC).

As a result of this transaction, Liberty's indirect ownership interests in Telewest, Chorus and UGC will decline from 25 percent to 20 percent, from 50 percent to 39.5 percent and from 76 percent to 75 percent, respectively.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Telewest is the second-largest cable operator in Britain with 1.3 million subscribers. Chorus has 206,000 subscribers in Ireland. UGC has about 13.1 million customers in 21 countries in Europe, Latin America and Australia.

BCI manager of communications Maureen Huff said Bresnan got involved in the deal because of his relationship with Liberty chairman John Malone.

"He [Bresnan] has worked with John Malone since 1984," Huff said. "This was a great opportunity for us to get back in partnership with Liberty and John and their team."

Huff added that BCI wouldn't have an operational say in the partnership, but the company will "consult with Liberty regarding certain strategic issues."

She said that although BCI sees no immediate additional opportunities in the international market, the company expects to grow.

"Bill Bresnan has been a pioneer in the cable-television business in the United States and abroad," Liberty president and CEO Robert Bennett said in a prepared statement. "Liberty Media and its predecessor companies have had a number of successful ventures over the years with Bill and his team, and we look forward to working with them again. Their hands-on operating experience will be a significant benefit to our international cable activities."

Bresnan -- who sold his Bresnan Communications cable holdings to Charter Communications Inc. in 2000 for $3.1 billion in stock and debt -- recently agreed to purchase 320,000 subscribers in Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado for $735 million. That deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2003.

Bresnan has experience in the international cable market -- he had previously owned cable systems in Poland (sold in 1999 to Elektrim SA) and Chile (sold to Tele-Communications International Inc. in 1998).