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German cable lines cross

BC Partners is expected to bid for Ish's other shares

BERLIN — Investment groups Goldman Sachs, Apax and Providence, which own Germany’s largest cable provider, Kabel Deutschland, have sold their 20% stake in No. 2 cabler Ish to Hamburg-based BC Partners for an estimated E150 million ($192 million).

Although the transaction ends a conflict of interest, it also lays the groundwork for a new combination whose implications will not be lost on the cartel watchdog.

BC Partners, which already owns cable group Telecolumbus, is expected to bid for Ish’s other shares, which have been put on the block by Ish’s creditor banks.

BC Partners would be competing with Apollo, which has offered between $2 billion and $2.5 billion for the 80% stake in Ish. Apollo is the owner of cable provider Iesy. If one of the bidders is successful, it could lead to a merger of two cablers, with other regional providers likely to be absorbed later.

Last year, Kabel Deutschland tried to buy Ish, Iesy and Kabel BW, which would have created a monopoly nationwide cable provider, but the antitrust authority stepped in to stop the transaction. Two years earlier, U.S. tycoon John Malone failed in a similar takeover.

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