Liberty Global Eyes Dutch MSO Ziggo

Dutch Cabler Says Offer ‘Inadequate’

Liberty Global has made an offer to acquire the remaining interest in Dutch cable operator Ziggo it doesn’t already own, its latest attempt to consolidate the European cable business.

Ziggo, which has about 3.1million customers in the Netherlands said it had received an unsolicited bid from Liberty Global, but found the offer to be “inadequate.” The company added it did not know if another offer would be forthcoming from the cable giant.

Liberty Global is the largest cable operator in Europe with about 20 million subscribers in 13 countries. It agreed to a $16 billion acquisition of U.K. cable operator Virgin Media in February, but since then has fallen short in other attempts to consolidate the business. Liberty Global had bid on German cable giant Kabel Deutschland earlier this year, but was bested by a higher bid from wireless giant Vodafone.

Liberty currently owns a 28.5% stake in Ziggo, and has been steadily increasing its stake in the Dutch company since March, when it purchased a 12.65% interest in Ziggo for about $810 million. Several reports in the European press estimate LGI would have to pony up an additional $6.1 billion to acquire the rest of the company at current market prices. Ziggo did not disclose the size of the Liberty Global proposal.

Liberty Global, headed by cable legend John Malone, had considered a purchase of the Dutch cable operator in 2011, but Ziggo opted to conduct an initial public offering instead.

Liberty’s bid appears to contradict comments made by CEO Mike Fries to Reuters on the sidelines at a Brussels industry conference last week when he said the company was satisfied with its current Ziggo stake. Fries told the wire service on Oct. 11 that Liberty was “happy with the position we have right now.”