Iliad subsidiary strikes $1.8bn deal to acquire UPC Poland

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Iliad will be boosting its Polish presence with the acquisition of UPC Poland from Liberty Global in a deal worth $1.8 billion.

Closing of the deal is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including receipt of requisite regulatory approvals and the deal is expected to be concluded in the first half of 2022.

The combined company will become the second-largest telecoms operator in Poland upon completion of the deal with combined revenues of €1.96 billion in 2020.

In a statement, an Iliad spokesperson said: "After the purchase of Play end 2020, the acquisition of UPC Poland represents a new step for Iliad in the Polish telecoms market.”

Play currently has over 15 million subscribers in Poland and provides mobile voice, messaging, data and video services for both consumers and businesses on a contract. Its 4G LTE/5G network covers 99% of the Polish population.

Iliad initially approached Liberty Global about a potential deal at the end of July and the sale price represents a multiple of approximately 9x UPC Poland’s estimated 2021 EBITDA.

The deal comes after Xavier Niel, the founder and controlling shareholder of Iliad said he would be making a €3.1 billion offer to buy the remaining shares of the company and take it private.

Mike Fries, chief executive officer of Liberty Global said: “This transaction highlights, yet again, the significant value of fibre-rich HFC networks in Europe, as well as the substantial synergy benefits inherent in fixed-mobile convergence (“FMC”) mergers.

“The cash proceeds, net of debt repayment, from this asset sale of approximately $600 million will boost Liberty Global’s already substantial cash balance, which stood at $4.1 billion5 as of June 30, 2021. As ever, we remain squarely focused on value creation and are pleased with the premium valuation we received for our Polish business, providing a strong return for Liberty Global shareholders.”

Proceeds from the sale are expected to be used for corporate purposes which, the company says, may include reinvestment and support for the company’s multi-year share buyback commitment.