German cable coup

Goldman Sachs group buys franchises

BERLIN — A Goldman Sachs Capital Partners consortium has picked up Teutonic telco giant Deutsche Telekom’s six regional cable franchises for $2.3 billion, well under a $6 billion Liberty Media bid nixed by German antitrust authorities last year.

However, the figure is a drop in the bucket compared with Deutsche Telekom’s $70 billion debt, which it is trying to cut by $15 billion this year.

The sale price includes $1.9 billion in cash and a further $405 million dependent on the financial development of the cable companies, which together reach 10 million households.

Investors are anxious to upgrade Germany’s aging cable lines to equip them with high-speed Internet access, cinema-on-demand, telephony and other digital technologies.

The deal depends on a greenlight from the European Union cartel office due to the number of investors involved, but it is expected to be approved. Federal watchdogs torpedoed John Malone’s bid last year because Liberty’s role as a content provider gave it an unfair advantage.

The consortium also includes finance investors Apax Partners and Providence Equity and Morgan Stanley.

The six cablers cover the states of Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Western Pommerania, Lower Saxony, Bremen, Berlin, Brandenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and Bavaria.

Deutsche Telekom already sold off its cable assets in North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Wurttemberg and Hesse.

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