Liberty Media to buy cable operators from DT

Cable conglomerate Liberty Media has agreed to purchase the entirety of six German regional cable operators and cable services companies from Deutsche Telekom, the phone company announced Thursday.

The agreement revises a deal announced in February for Liberty Media to purchase a majority stake in the companies, in partnership with a consortium of other, undisclosed investors, said Julie Gleichmann, a Liberty spokeswoman.

Private equity firm Klesch & Company originally brought the coalition of investors together, and has negotiated an option to purchase 24.9 percent of the cable assets from Liberty Media, Deutsche Telekom said in the announcement.

Liberty Media hopes to sign official agreements in July, and will seek regulatory approval from European antitrust authorities, she said.

Liberty Media declined to disclose the purchase value of the cable companies, but a close observer who requested anonymity of the deal said it would be close to 5 billion Euros (US$4.28 billion).

Liberty Media will acquire the cable regions of Hamburg/Schleswig-Holstein/Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, Bremen/Lower Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate/Saarland, Berlin/Brandenburg, Saxony/Saxony-Anhalt/Thuringia and Bavaria. More than 10 million households are connected to the cable network in these six regions, according to the release. Approximately 2,800 people are employed in the affected subsidiaries.

Liberty Media intends to upgrade the cable networks to provide digital cable and cable Internet access service, but Gleichmann said she did not know how long that upgrade would take to complete or what the cost would be.

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