Telecoms firm Liberty Global buys Belgian mobile operator Base for £950m

Telecoms giant Liberty Global – the owner of Virgin Media – has unveiled plans to buy Belgian mobile network operator Base for £950m

International telecoms giant Liberty Global has announced it will buy Belgian mobile firm Base for €1.325bn (£950m).

Liberty Global’s Belgian subsidiary Telenet Group Holding NV will buy Base in an all-cash transaction, with a combination of liquid assets and €1bn of debt facilities.

According to Liberty Global – owner of Virgin Media – the €1.325bn price tag represents a 4.2x price purchase multiple on the estimated operating cashflow (OCF) for Base in 2015.

“Not surprisingly, the synergies are substantial and the price at 4.2x OCF is highly accretive to shareholders,” said Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global.

“Elsewhere in Europe we will continue to focus primarily on our existing mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) arrangements and rapidly developing Wi-Fi networks to provide seamless mobile voice and data services to our customers.”

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Telenet plans investment overhaul for Base

Base’s acquisition will add 3.3 million Belgian customers to Liberty Global's existing 895,000 Telenet customers in the country.

Telenet plans to invest €240m in Base over the next few years, to upgrade its mobile network and support systems to integrate the two companies.

This investment will work alongside Telenet’s previous plans to invest €500m in its own hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network.

At the end of 2014 there was speculation that Vodafone was considering a merger with Liberty Global to expand.

A merger of this scale would create the largest communications company in Europe, and would make Vodafone one of the largest consumer broadband and telecommunications companies in the UK.

These discussions followed talks between BT, EE, O2 and Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa, owner of the Three network, which resulted in Hutchison Whampoa buying O2 UK from telecoms giant Telefonica in a deal worth £9.5bn.

This acquisition created the largest mobile operator in the UK, accounting for 33 million customers nationally.


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