John Malone’s Liberty Global is considering a move deeper into the German cable market, talking with officials at that country’s largest MSO, Kabel Deutschland, about a possible merger, according to published reports.
Bloomberg News said earlier today that Malone’s Liberty Global is considering launching a takeover bid for Kabel Deutschland in the wake of receiving approval from the European Union for its $16 billion plan to acquire U.K. cable operator Virgin Media. Liberty Global is the largest cable operator in Europe and has about 19.8 million subscribers in 13 countries around the globe.
Liberty kicked the tires on Kabel Deutschland in 2010, but the German MSO instead decided to conduct an initial public offering. In 2001, Liberty made moves to acquire the cable assets of Deutsch Telekom, but was blocked by regulators who feared making a foreign operator the dominant cable player in their country. Instead, German regulators split DT into three separate companies – Unity Media, Kabel BW and Kabel Deutschland. Liberty Global acquired Unity Media in 2010 and Kabel BW in 2011, and currently has about 7 million customers in the country. Acquiring KD’s 8.5 million customers would secure its position firmly as the top German cabler.