German antitrust authorities casting watchful eye
BERLIN — John Malone’s Liberty Media and German telco Deutsche Telekom have finally sealed an agreement for Liberty to acquire six of DT’s nine regional cable networks.
Liberty will pay an estimated 5.5 billion euros ($5 billion) once it has been given the go ahead by Germany’s anti-trust authorities, who have expressed concerns over the fact that Liberty is also a shareholder in content providers AOL Time Warner and News Corp and has other cable interests in Germany.
The deal was reportedly finalized after the inclusion of a clause which would allow Liberty to pull out if German regulators object to its plans.
Reaching an agreement is good news for DT, which says it will use the cash to pay off debts.
“Today DT has reached its goal of separating itself from its TV cable systems,” Gerd Tenzer, DT’s head of production and technology, said.
The deal concludes the sale of DT’s networks. U.S. media group Callahan previously picked up two networks, and U.K. investment company Kletsch bought another.
It remains to be seen how Liberty will develop the networks, which are in need of upgrading. Some in the industry fear Liberty will forego investment in broadband Internet and instead concentrate on entertainment content.