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Liberty Global buys stake in Dutch cable operator

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The US cable giant Liberty Global announced Thursday that it has bought a minority stake in Dutch cable operator Ziggo worth more than a half billion euros, as Liberty pursues its march into strategic European markets.

Liberty Global "has acquired 25.3 million shares in Ziggo from Barclays Capital Securities Limited... for a total investment of approximately 632.5 million euros," or about $807 million, the Colorado-based cable group said in a statement.

"As a result of this investment, Liberty Global owns 12.65 percent of Ziggo, based on the shares outstanding as of December 31, 2012," it added.

The announcement came just over a month after Liberty said it would acquire Virgin Media in a stock and cash merger valued at $23.3 billion. The mega-deal would cover 47 million homes and serve 25 million customers in 14 countries.

The purchase of a stake in Ziggo, the Netherlands' largest cable operator which serves around 2.8 million households, was "an attractive opportunity to make a strategic investment in a market where it already enjoys a sizeable presence," Liberty said.

Further sweetening the deal was a roughly 7.4 percent dividend yield on Ziggo shares, which was "implied by Ziggo's expectation that it will pay 370 million euros of dividends during 2013," Liberty added.

The deal will be financed with a loan and existing liquidity, the group said.

"As the transaction does not result in Liberty Global obtaining a controlling interest in Ziggo, no regulatory approvals are required," it added.

Active in 13 countries, including 11 in Europe, Liberty bought the number two and three cable operators in Germany in 2010 and 2011 -- Unitymedia and Kabel BW.

Liberty announced in January however that it had abandoned an initial public offering for the Belgian firm Telenet after only being able to attract 58.3 percent of the capital.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130328/liberty-global-buys-stake-dutch-cable-operator