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Telenet to buy KPN unit for €1.3bn

Cable telecoms company Liberty Global’s Belgian subsidiary Telenet has agreed to buy local mobile network operator Base from Dutch group KPN for €1.325 billion.

For Liberty Global, Europe’s biggest cable operator, the acquisition marks a departure in strategy, having said in the past that it is not interested in buying or building its own mobile phone networks instead of renting capacity from rivals as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).

However, the deal will create a much stronger operator in Belgium’s mobile market as fixed and mobile telecom services converge, with the combined company having estimated sales of €2.4 billion and adjusted operating earnings of €1.1 billion, Telenet said in a statement.

“We fully support Telenet’s acquisition of Base, which represents a cost-effective and unique opportunity to expand Telenet’s mobile and fixed business in Belgium,” Mike Fries, chief executive of Liberty Global, commented. “Elsewhere in Europe we will continue to focus primarily on our existing MVNO arrangements and rapidly developing WiFi networks to provide seamless mobile voice and data services to our customers.”

Liberty owns 56.67 per cent of Telenet. As a result of taking over Base’s network, Telenet will no longer need to buy wholesale capacity from Belgium’s second-largest network operator, Mobistar, which is 52.91 per cent owned by France’s Orange.

The deal is still subject to regulatory approvals.

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