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Is this American billionaire's company about to buy TV3?

UPC owner Liberty Global has emerged as the frontrunner in a potential sale.

Liberty Global chairman John Malone
Liberty Global chairman John Malone
Image: Julie Jacobson/AP

UPC OWNER LIBERTY Global is reportedly in talks to buy TV3, although any deal would need to be cleared by competition regulators.

The Irish Times said the US-listed company, which is chaired by billionaire telecoms and property tycoon John Malone, was “well advanced” in conducting due diligence to take over the Irish TV station.

TV3 is currently owned by UK private equity firm Doughty Hanson, which bought the station for €265 million in 2006.

Liberty Global already operates an on-demand TV service in Ireland through UPC, the biggest high-speed broadband provider in the country, although its subscriber numbers are well behind those of market leader Sky.

It was also recently confirmed the company was in discussions with Vodafone about a tie-up between parts of the two firms’ businesses. A merger of their European assets was tipped as one possibility.

UPC UPC's Horizon TV launch in 2013 Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Big spender

Malone has already been on an Irish shopping spree, buying a string of commercial properties across the country including five luxury hotels.

Meanwhile, Independent News and Media (INM), in which billionaire Denis O’Brien is the biggest shareholder, has also been flagged as a possible TV3 buyer after the company said it planned to spend up to €100 million on acquisitions.

However the media company has since described the move as “highly unlikely” and added there hadn’t been any talks between INM and TV3′s owners.

INM Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

It comes as the government mulls new media-merger guidelines amid concerns that a further expansion of O’Brien’s empire, which also includes several radio licenses, would give him too much control of Irish media.

Both TV3 and Liberty Global are yet to respond to requests for comment.

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About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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