Malone thus combines the main challenger of Swisscom’s market leader in mobile telephony (Sunrise) with Swisscom’s main challenger in cable (UPC Schweiz). Together, UPC and Sunrise will control some 30 percent of the Swiss cable market, still well behind Swisscom’s 50 percent.
The offer is a coup de théatre: a year and a half ago, Malone tried to sell UPC to Sunrise for 6.3 billion Swiss francs. But the minority shareholders blocked that deal because it was too expensive. So now the roles are reversed. Sunrise’s largest shareholder, the German telecom holding Freenet, has already announced that it will offer its 24 percent stake. Liberty offers 110 Swiss francs per share, a 28 percent premium over Tuesday night’s closing price.
With a turnover of 3.1 billion Swiss francs, 2.1 million mobile customers, 1.2 million broadband subscribers and 1.3 million television customers, Sunrise, supplemented with UPC, says it is well equipped to compete with Swisscom. The two claim not only to be able to save 275 million francs in costs annually, but also to have more cash flow to invest in a high-performance 5G network.
Liberty pays the acquisition in full in cash and finances the price tag with a mix of cash on the balance sheet and debt. Cash is in any case no problem for the American conglomerate: last year Vodafone deposited 19 billion euros into the account to take over the German cable subsidiary from Liberty.
Strange duck Telenet
Telenet will remain within the Liberty empire
the odd man out, as the only subsidiary with minority shareholders. Liberty controls just over 60 percent of the Belgian subsidiary, while the Americans fully own the British-Irish subsidiary Virgin Media and the Swiss-Polish-Slovak subsidiary UPC. The Dutch subsidiary VodafoneZiggo is a 50/50 joint venture with the British mobile giant Vodafone.