Macquarie, MBK headed group of buyers

HONG KONG – A consortium headed by Australian bank Macquarie and Korean private equity group MBK have completed their $2 billion purchase of South Korea’s number two cable TV network C&M.

C&M has more than two million cable TV subscribers in and around Seoul with a potential subscriber base covering 40% of the South Korean population, according to a joint statement.

Deal is the first that sees a foreign outfit take control of a Korean TV player. Korea has restrictions on foreign investment in domestic broadcast companies. The purchase received regulatory approval in February.

The cable TV sector in Korea is still fragmented with over 100 companies including Qrix Communication and On Media, functioning as multi-service operators. But easing of restrictions as to companies’ areas of operation and adoption of digital and broadband television are expected by financial analysts to trigger market growth and further corporate consolidation.

The consortium, Kookmin Cable Investment Inc., had initially bought 27.5% of C&M from Goldman Sachs for Won563 billion ($560 million) last year and later agreed to buy a further 65% agreed from C&M Chairman Lee Min-joo and other major stakeholders. Consortium is headed by Macquarie Korea Opportunities Fund and MBK Partners and also includes South Korean fund manager Mirae Asset Management and Taihan Electric Wire.

Macquarie acquired Korean cinema chain Megabox last year, but lost out to SK Telecom Co in a bid for a major stake in broadband operator Hanarotelecom.

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