Group banks on South Korean TV

Consortium complete $2 billion purchase

A consortium headed by Australian bank Macquarie and Korean private equity group MBK have completed their $2 billion purchase of South Korea’s No. 2 cable TV network C&M.

C&M has more than 2 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.

Macquarie is the first foreign outfit to 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 more than 100 companies functioning as multi-service operators. But financial analysts expect that easing restrictions on companies’ areas of operation and adoption of digital and broadband television will trigger market growth and further corporate consolidation.

The consortium, Kookmin Cable Investment, bought 27.5% of C&M from Goldman Sachs for 563 billion won ($560 million) last year and later agreed to buy another 65% 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 in a bid for a major stake in broadband operator Hanarotelecom.

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