Carlyle back in Casema deal?

Liberty Media's decision to pull out of a E750m deal for Dutch cable operator Casema could see the US buyout group re-enter the bidding.

Liberty Media’s withdrawal from a E750m deal to acquire Casema from France Telecom could enable the US buyout firm Carlyle to resurrect an earlier effort to buy the Dutch cable operator.

 

The firm is ready to renew its offer for the business, the third largest cable operator in the Dutch market, reports Reuters. However any bid is likely to come in at around E600m, some way below Liberty Media’s withdrawn offer of E750m.

 

France Telecom is keen to proceed with a sale of the business as it continues with efforts to reduce a debt pile that stands at around E70bn. “France Telecom confirms its intention to divest Casema and has already re-entered into discussions with potential acquirers,” the group said in a statement yesterday, failing to identify any potential bidders.

 

Liberty’s efforts to establish itself as a major operator in the European cable television market have encountered difficulties in 2002 as local competition offices prove cautious about granting the company a dominant position in Europe. Earlier this year, the company failed in its attempt to expand its operations in the German market, when the German cartel office blocked its E5.5bn deal to buy cable assets from Deutsche Telekom.

 

Liberty Media’s deal to acquire Casema had faced competition issues as Dutch regulators feared a deal with Casema would give Liberty a dominant position that could hinder competition in the Dutch market. The acquisition of Casema would have given Liberty a 60 per cent share of the market.

 

European cable operator Callahan Associates International, which was in discussions with France Telecom the first time around, has also indicated that it may be interested in a deal.

 

Carlyle declined to comment on the report.