UPDATE 1-Telenet results up pressure on Liberty to raise bid

Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:33am EST

* Telenet 2012 revenues beat forecasts

* Results released early, ahead of Liberty's bid deadline

* Liberty's 35 euros per share offer closes on Friday

* Telenet shares up 0.3 pct, above the offer price

BRUSSELS, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Stronger-than-expected revenues at Belgian cable firm Telenet have increased the pressure on U.S. shareholder Liberty Global to raise its 1.96 billion euro ($2.6 billion) bid to take full control of the business.

Telenet shares were up 0.3 percent at 35.35 euros in Thursday afternoon trading, above Liberty's offer of 35 euros and signalling investors are hopeful of a better deal.

"It looks as if Liberty will have to increase its bid," said KBC Securities analyst Tom Simonts.

Liberty's offer is due to end on Friday. The U.S.-based cable group, which already owns 50.1 percent of Telenet, has said in the past it would not raise its bid.

Telenet unexpectedly released a trading update late on Wednesday, saying its 2012 revenues rose by 8.2 percent to 1.49 billion euros, beating analysts' average forecast of 1.48 billion and company guidance for growth of 7-8 percent.

KBC's Simonts said the figures would boost confidence in Telenet's forecast for revenue growth of 10-11 percent this year, which in turn could merit a higher bid price.

"The 2013 guidance makes for a valuation model out of which we deduce a valuation of 39 euros," he said.

Telenet, which was due to release full-year results on Feb. 27, said its 2012 profits had risen in line with its forecasts.

The guidance for 2013 implies revenues of between 1.64 billion euros and 1.65 billion euros. That's as much as 5 percent more than 1.58 billion currently forecast on average by 23 banks and brokerages polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Liberty dropped a clause from its original bid that it must get at least 95 percent acceptances, so the bid will proceed even if it falls well short of that level.

Justifying its bid price, Liberty has questioned growth forecasts for 2012-2018 prepared by Telenet's management. Liberty says they are overly optimistic about Telenet's fledgling mobile business, see only a limited impact of regulation and rely on growth in later years.

However, to achieve its goal of increasing its control of the company, Liberty may end up having to purchase more shares.

In December, Norges Bank Investment Management, which holds a 4 percent stake and is Telenet's fourth-biggest shareholder, said it would not tender its shares.

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