Copyright 2007 World Markets Research Limited
All Rights Reserved
Global Insight
January 3, 2007
By Eva Bakowicz
From Lexis Nexis

U.S. cable-TV group Liberty Global has finalised the 322.5-million-euro (US$428.3 million) acquisition of the Czech cable TV operator, Karneval.

Liberty Global already operates in the country through UPC Czech Republic.

Karneval offers cable TV and broadband services to residential customers, and had about 310,000 subscribers at the end of June 2006. The deal was first announced in August last year (see Czech Republic: 10 August 2006: ).

Significance: Liberty Global leads consolidation on the Czech cable TV market. The merged group will become a major rival to the country's fixed-line incumbent, Telefónica O2 Czech Republic, which already offers triple-play services, including IPTV (see Czech Republic: 5 September 2006:  and 20 July 2006: ).

The merger is expected to boost competition in the Czech broadband market and offset the dominance of Telefónica O2. The Czech acquisition and UPC Romania's merger with rival Astral Telecom last year signal that Liberty Media has been strengthening its position in the high-growth broadband markets in Central and Eastern Europe.

At the same time, the group has disposed of some of its assets in Western Europe. Its Belgian cable business, UPC Belgium, was sold last month to Telenet Group Holding for 184.5 million euro (US$245 million) (see Belgium: 12 December 2006: ). It disposed of its Swedish cable operations unit, UPC Sweden, for US$427 million, which was acquired by a U.S. private-equity consortium, comprising Carlyle Group and Providence Equity Partners (PEP) in April last year (see Sweden: 7 April 2006: ).

Its French unit, UPC France, was acquired by Cinven and a rival cableco, Altice, for about 1.25 billion euro in March last year (see France: 24 March 2006: ).