Liberty Global Inc. (LBTYA:US) said it won’t reopen its 2 billion-euro ($2.6 billion) bid for Belgium’s Telenet Group Holding NV (TNET) and will accept the shares already tendered at the offer price of 35 euros apiece.
Telenet fell as much as 6.4 percent to 34.41 euros. The stock, which rose 21 percent last year, traded at 35.46 euros, or 3.6 percent lower, at 10:57 a.m. local time.
Liberty Global, the international cable provider controlled by billionaire John Malone, made the announcement in a notice in De Tijd and L’Echo newspapers today. Shareholders with 8.4 percent of outstanding shares accepted the tender, which expired on Jan. 11, bringing Liberty’s stake in the Belgian cable operator to 58.4 percent, the company said Jan. 14.
“We want to stress that Liberty Global can anytime increase its offer,” Emmanuel Carlier, an analyst at ING Groep NV in Brussels who recommends investors buy the stock, said today in a note. “The longer it takes however, the higher the chance that Liberty Global will not raise its bid but try to gain control via a share buyback.”
Telenet, which has 2.1 million cable-TV subscribers, said on Jan. 9 that revenue increased 8.2 percent to about 1.49 billion euros in 2012. The company will publish full results on Feb. 27.
The “limited” amount of shareholders tendering at 35 euros “comes as no surprise” given Telenet’s growth potential, James Ratcliffe, an analyst at Barclays Plc, said in a note to clients earlier this week.
Belgium is Liberty Global’s second-biggest market (LBTYA:US), after Germany. Liberty acquired German cable providers Kabel Baden- Wuerttemberg and Unitymedia in the past three years.
Liberty Global, based in Englewood, Colorado, distributes TV, Internet and phone services to 19.6 million customers, making it the second-largest cable company in the world, behind Comcast Corp. It has 18.4 million European subscribers.
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