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Liberty unit to purchase Noos

Buy expands UnitedGlobalCom presence in digital market

Liberty Media’s cabler UnitedGlobalCom received European Union approval to buy French cable operator Noos for e660 million ($791 million) on Tuesday.

UnitedGlobalCom will buy the business from Paris-based water utility Suez to expand its presence in the digital market. Suez, the world’s second-largest water company, will own 20% of UnitedGlobalCom’s French holding company, Mediareseaux.

The combined company will have about 1.8 million subscribers and revenue of about $477 million based on results for fiscal 2003, Denver-based UnitedGlobalCom said in March.

The purchase will add to the company’s presence in the European high-speed Internet market, UnitedGlobalCom CEO Mike Fries said at the time.

Liberty, controlled by John Malone, intends to spin off its 55% stake in UnitedGlobalCom to form Liberty Media Intl. The new company will also own cable companies in Japan and Latin America.

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