Acquisitive cable group Liberty Global is in talks with Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) over a possible takeover, in a deal that could reportedly be worth more than $5 billion.
Both companies confirmed that discussions are underway in separate statements, after The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) first broke the news yesterday.
According to WSJ sources, a deal could be reached before both companies release their financial results in early November.
However, as is common with takeover negotiations, Liberty Global warned the talks may not amount to an offer, and said it has until 19 November to announce “a firm intention to make an offer for CWC”, in accordance with UK law.
The move is seen as a way for Liberty, owned by tycoon John Malone, to further extend its reach in the Caribbean, where CWC has a large presence, along with its operations in Latin America.
Earlier this year, CWC acquired another John Malone backed company, Columbus International, for $1.9 billion, which in turn handed Malone a 13 per cent voting stake in CWC. He has therefore recused himself from the discussions between Liberty and CWC, according to a source.
CWC, which is headquartered in London, has regional operations in Caribbean, Panama, Monaco and Seychelles, where it tailors its offering around convergence, offering bundled pay-tv, internet, wireless and fixed services.
According to CWC’s website, it has six million total subscribers, of which 3.7 million are mobile, and says it is a leader in 10 out of 15 mobile markets. It has a reported market value of approximately $4 billion, and with debt, the deal could be valued at up to $8 billion.
Liberty, too, has been focused on a strategy around bundled offerings, and has been looking to beef up in mobile to complement its vast cable business, which spans Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America.
The company however does not own a mobile operator in the Caribbean.
Speaking of the Caribbean in September, Liberty CEO Mike Fries said “the region as a whole requires massive consolidation”. Liberty also recently created a separate stock named LiLAC which groups together all its Latin American and Caribbean operations.
Malone is seemingly back on the hunt for acquisitions after Liberty’s talks with Vodafone over a possible asset exchange collapsed last month.
Over the years, it has made a series of cable acquisitions, including Virgin Media in the UK and Dutch operator Ziggo. It has also been linked by analysts with a possible move to acquire T-Mobile Netherlands, which could be up for sale.