UPDATE 1-Telenet replaces CEO, former Austar chief to head company
* Duco Sickinghe to leave, to be replaced by John Porter
* Follows full takeover bid by Liberty Global
* U.S. firm Liberty Global owns 58.3 pct stake
BRUSSELS, March 5 (Reuters) - Belgian telecom and cable operator Telenet NV said on Tuesday that its chief executive would be leaving, to be replaced by the former head of Australian pay-TV firm Austar United Communications.
Duco Sickinghe will step down from its executive duties on March 31 and as a director at the occasion of the annual shareholders meeting on April 24. He said the decision was taken "in light of recent events", without elaborating.
The most obvious recent event was the bid launched in September by U.S. cable group Liberty Global to take full control of Telenet. It already owned 50.4 percent.
Under Sickinghe's watch, Telenet published a report by an independent advisor saying that Liberty's bid was too low.
The 35-euro-per-share bid valued the remaining stake in the Belgian operator, which provides television, broadband and mobile phone services in the Dutch-speaking north of Belgium, at 1.96 billion euros ($2.6 billion).
Liberty did not increase it offer. With most investors holding out for more, it only raised its stake to 58.3 percent.
"To me this doesn't come as a surprise," ABN Amro analyst Marc Hesselink said. "He said that the Liberty Global bid was too low. At that stage the decision was made that this would happen."
Sickinghe will be replaced by John Porter, a 55-year-old with dual Australian and U.S. citizenship. Porter was chief executive of Austar until it was taken over by Foxtel last year.
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