Liberty buyout bid for Belgium's Telenet too low - advisors

Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:38pm EDT

* Independent advisors value Telenet at 37-42 euros/share

* Liberty Global continues to bid 35 euros/share

* Liberty is already majority owner

* Telenet issues 2013 outlook, sees revenue growth accelerating

BRUSSELS, Oct 29 (Reuters) - U.S cable holding group Liberty Global's bid to take full control of Belgian cable operator Telenet is too low, a financial advisor appointed by Telenet's independent board members said on Monday.

The U.S. group, which has 19.6 million customers in 13 countries, has offered 35 euros per share to buy the rest of Telenet, but according to advisor Lazard Telenet is worth between 37 and 42 euros.

Lazard, appointed by Telenet's independent directors to evaluate the bid in accordance with Belgian law, said its view was based on the historical share price performance, analysts' estimates and relevant multiples of sector peers.

"Telenet has been informed that Liberty Global has serious reservations with regard to the revised assumptions mentioned," Telenet said. It added that Liberty, advised by Morgan Stanley, values Telenet at 28-35 euros per share.

Liberty, which would make a separate statement later on Monday, would continue with its 35 euro bid, Telenet said. However, the bid would no longer be conditional on attaining 95 percent of the group, it added.

Liberty owns a 50.14 percent stake in Telenet, which is its second largest business in revenue terms after its European division UPC.

The stake was already set to rise to 61.18 percent because Liberty chose not to tender its shares for Telenet's capital reduction in August, worth the equivalent of 3.25 euros per share.

In a separate announcement on Monday, Telenet issued a forecast for 2013, saying it sees revenue up by between 10 and 11 percent and core profit (EBITDA) up by between 7 and 8 percent. For this year, it is forecasting growth of 7-8 percent for each.

Telenet said next year's expansion was based on uptake of television and broadband Internet services, including combination packages, as well as a growth of its relatively new mobile phone business.

Profits would not grow by as much as revenue because margins in mobile were lower, Telenet said.

Telenet has to rent access to the network of Belgium's second-largest mobile phone operator Mobistar to offer mobile phone services to its clients.

Telenet shares have been suspended by the Belgian regulator since Thursday morning, pending the announcement. They closed on Wednesday at 35.85 euros and have been just above Liberty Global's offer price for two weeks.

Telenet, which had 2.13 million customers in the third quarter of 2012, has been steadily growing its business by upgrading its clients to higher-priced digital television services and selling packages containing broadband and, most recently, mobile phone services.

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