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Liberty Global buys a stake in BSkyB’s ITV

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 12:41pm
Mike Robuck

Liberty Global announced today that it was buying a 6.4 percent stake in British broadcaster ITV from BSkyB for 481 million pounds, or $824 million.

Liberty Global said in its press release that it didn’t intend to make an offer to acquire all of ITV, but reserved the right to do so if circumstances warranted it.

Liberty Global will finance the acquisition of the ITV shares through a combination of a loan linked to a hedging transaction that would be secured by ITV shares and existing liquidity. With this level of investment, no regulatory approvals were required, according to Liberty Global.

“This is an opportunistic and attractive investment for us in our largest cable market,” said Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries. “ITV is the leading commercial broadcaster in the U.K. and we're excited to be shareholders.”

The deal extends Englewood, Colo.-based Liberty Global’s reach into another area outside of its core cable operator business. Earlier this year, Liberty Global teamed up with Discovery communications to buy All3Media.

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, which was rejected in its $80 billion bid to buy Time Warner, owns a 39 percent stake in BSkyB.

In January, John Malone’s Liberty Global bought the rest of Ziggo that it didn’t already own in a $13.7 billion cash and stock deal. After purchasing a 28.5 percent stake in Ziggo in March of last year, Malone and Liberty Global had been in hot pursuit of the rest of Netherlands-based Ziggo since August. In October, Ziggo’s board and shareholders rebuffed Liberty Global’s offer, but Liberty Global put in another bid late last year.

In 2013, Liberty Global completed its $24 billion cash and stock deal to buy Virgin Media. Also last year, Malone’s Liberty Media made a $2.6 billion investment Charter Communications, which helped fuel Charter’s pursuit of Time Warner Cable.

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