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The largest broadband company outside China, Liberty Global, is close to finalizing a takeover of Dutch provider Ziggo, according to sources quoted by Bloomberg.
Liberty became the biggest non-Chinese broadband firm by subscriber count when it bought the UK’s Virgin Media in February last year. Little more than a month later, it bought a 12.65 percent stake in Ziggo, the Netherlands’ largest cable provider (Liberty’s UPC is the second-largest), and later in 2013 it increased that stake to around 28.5 percent.
Now it wants the rest. According to Bloomberg, though, it’s still not clear what would happen to new Ziggo CEO Rene Obermann, who jumped ship from the much larger Deutsche Telekom just days ago.
All this points to two things: ongoing consolidation in the European telecoms infrastructure industry, and the renewed vitality of “cable cowboy” John Malone, the American exec behind Liberty. This may be a big year for Malone, and not just in Europe. On Friday, Liberty Media also said it wanted to buy out Sirius XM Radio, in a move that could help it finance a long-rumored takeover of Time Warner Cable.
I asked Liberty for comment on its Dutch plans, but a spokesman for the company declined the request.