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Liberty Global exits Japanese market

Cable company sells J:COM for $4 billion

John Malone’s Liberty Global has agreed to sell its 37.8% stake in Japan’s largest cabler, Jupiter Telecommunications (J:COM), to telco KDDI for more than $4 billion.

Colorado-based Liberty Global is expected to use the capital raised to fund further acquisitions in Europe, where it is already the leading cable operator.

In November, the company bought Unitymedia, the second-largest cabler in Germany, for $5.2 billion. It also operates in Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Ireland, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia, as well as Australia and Chile.

The J:COM deal, announced on Monday, makes KDDI the biggest shareholder in the cabler. Liberty Global will sell all its subsidiaries that hold J:COM shares and will also receive a final dividend of $5.50 per share, subject to approval at the J:COM shareholders meeting in March.

As part of the deal, Liberty is also dissolving its joint venture with Sumitomo Corporation, LGI/Sumisho Super Media. In return, Sumitomo will receive J:COM shares, while Liberty will buy a minority stake in one of the subsidiaries to be sold. The deal is expected to close by Feb. 10.

KDDI has been waging a fierce competitive with NTT, Japan’s number one telco, in Japan’s fiber optic cable market. Since 2006, it has purchased Tokyo Electric and Chubu Electric, which also offered fiber optic services. By acquiring J:COM, which offers cable, broadband and telephony services nationwide, it plans to further strengthen its position vis a vis NTT. As of the end of December, J:COM had 3,274,800 subscribers for a 3.4% month-on gain from the previous year.

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