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Through its US$1.4bn investment in UnitedGlobalCom, which will give it an 81% voting stake and 43% ownership, Liberty will gain as much as 60% in UPC. (UPC had planned to buy a stake in Telewest, of the U.K., from Liberty Media, but failed to gain support from its bondholders this week).

UPC, in its turn, has an option to buy around 25% of Telecolumbus from Deutsche Bank, an option that must be exercised by August this year. (Telecolumbus is a holding company for a group of cable operators that together serve around 1.7m households). Given that Deutsche Bank is no longer in the running for the Bavarian section of the network it may seek to sell all of its stake in Telecolumbus.

However, whether the buyer would be UPC/Liberty, or whether a company such as NTL would seek to increase its holdings in Germany is not clear. NTL did state that it was interested in further acquisitions there.

Aside from its possible stake in Telecolumbus, UPC already holds a 25.1% stake in the cable network operator PrimaCom. The other shareholders in PrimaCom are: Wolfgang Preuss with around 16.15%, Wellington Management Company LLP with 6.24%, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, which has around 5.19%, the board and management with 3.33%, and public shareholders with 25.58%.

It is thought likely that at least some of these PrimaCom investors would wish to sell.

However, expectations now are of a focus on the core business and, possibly, on the core European markets of Holland, Austria and Germany. In terms of the latter, UPC has announced that it will set up a separate UPC Germany. There is speculation that this might take place via UPC`s existing holding in PrimaCom, in which it has a 25.1% stake.

As for Liberty Media itself, it is due to be spun off from AT&T in the second quarter of 2001. The business is valued at around US$38.4bn. Liberty has stakes in companies including USA Networks, News Corp and QVC. Spinning off Liberty has a number of advantages for both Liberty and AT&T. One major plus for Liberty is that an independent status would increase its ability to raise debt, though banks are said to be happy to lend to it.

The reason for this, even in the present climate, is that cable companies can generate good cash flow to pay back their loans, which is the essential question for the banks at the end of the day, rather than any issue of profit or loss.

Given this, a key factor in deciding whether to lend is the initial cost of a subscriber. Though the actual cost being paid by Liberty and Klesch for their 10m subscribers is not clear, the deal would appear to be at least as attractive as that struck by Callahan Associates in North Rhine Westphalia for 4m subscribers
aus der Diskussion: Primacom Thread 91
Autor (Datum des Eintrages): kabelmedia  (28.02.01 14:19:31)
Beitrag: 118 von 166 (ID:2999297)
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