Telenet Eyes Unit of PE-Backed Numericable

Belgian cable operator Telenet is considering a bid for the Brussels-based unit of France’s Numericable, Reuters reported. Numericable, which is backed by private-equity firms Cinven Ltd, The Carlyle Group and Altice, told Reuters it had made no decision about a sale.

(Reuters) – Belgian cable operator Telenet said on Tuesday it would consider a bid for the Brussels-based unit of France’s Numericable, which would open a market beyond the group’s base in the north of the country.

“We are looking at this asset, just like we are looking at other assets in the cable sector, but we won’t give any information beyond that,” a Telenet spokesman said.

Private equity-backed Numericable told Reuters it is considering the future of its assets in Belgium and Luxembourg but that no decision about a sale had yet been taken.

Telenet tried to purchase the Brussels-based arm of Numericable, formerly known as Coditel, back in 2005 but failed to reach a deal, media have reported.

“Based on the numbers that have circulated in the Belgian media and the prices that have recently been paid for cable operators, I guess (the Brussels unit of) Numericable would be worth some hundreds of millions of euros,” Siddy Jobe, analyst at Bank Degroof, said.

Telenet launched a 350 million euro bond in October, which it later increased to 500 million euros, part of which it earmarked for either a shareholder payout or acquisitions.

The Belgian cable market is fragmented, with Telenet controlling the northern region of Flanders, Numericable being active in Brussels and unlisted Voo operating in the southern region of Wallonia.

Recently Belgian telecom operators Belgacom and Mobistar also launched TV packages. (Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek in Brussels, additional reporting by Marie Mawad in Paris; Editing by Rex Merrifield and Jon Loades-Carter)