Liberty Global steps into the ring for ONO

Juan Fernandez Gonzalez | 30-01-2014

Earlier this week it was Vodafone showing interest in buying the Spanish cable operator ONO, and now Liberty Global is ready to offer €7,000 million for it, according to the Financial Times (FT).

Both companies will be holding talks with ONO's owners to close a deal before the cable operator goes public.

John Malone's company closed a €10 billion deal to buy the Dutch cable operator Ziggo on Monday and now is looking to strengthen its position in the Spanish market. Both Liberty and Vodafone have previously stated their intentions to grow in Europe's cable market.

According to the FT, the big telcos are ready to snap up many European companies which are preparing to go public. Buyout fund managers are looking to float more than 40 companies this year and next in what would be the biggest surge of initial public offerings since the financial crisis, said the analyst quoted by the FT.

So far, ONO has refused to make any comment but has confirmed its intention to launch on Madrid's stock market before the summer. ONO's position in the cable market is stable, with a customer base of over three million. But the company has a debt of over €3,000 million, mostly due to its expansion effort over the past few years.

According to ONO's directors, the first signs of recovery for the Spanish economy as well as the fact that the company isn't being pressed by its creditors (the first instalments don't expire until 2017), makes 2014 the perfect year for it to go public.