Liberty opens $3 billion warchest

Chief says target is Central, Eastern Europe

LONDON — Liberty Global, the international cable giant controlled by John Malone, is ready to dip into a $3 billion war chest to strengthen its Euro ops.

Focus will be on acquisitions in Central and Eastern Europe, Liberty Global topper Mike Fries said in an interview with Dutch news daily Het Financieele Dagblad, published Tuesday. He added that German and Dutch companies were also being scrutinized, but he ruled out purchases in Spain and France. Liberty Global is already the leading cabler in Europe, with operations in Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Ireland, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia.

Late last month, it closed a deal to buy Germany’s second biggest cabler, Unity Media, for more than $3 billion, plus the assumption of $2.2 billion in debt.

Liberty Global exited the Japanese cable market last month with the sale of its 37.8% stake in market leader J:Com for $4 billion.

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