Liberty Global completes purchase of CWC/Columbus

17 May 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray


US-owned cable operator Liberty Global has officially taken control of the last part of the former UK company Cable & Wireless, following the completion of its $7.4 billion deal.

Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC), which owns 15 operations in the Caribbean and central America plus one in the Seychelles, will become part of Liberty Global’s Latin American and Caribbean (LiLAC) group.

The takeover will triple the size of the LiLAC group, from $1.2 billion revenue to $3.6 billion. The merged LiLAC operation has substantial business to business and submarine fibre operations, which are expected to benefit from a massive increase in bandwidth consumption.

Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global, said: “We are joining two high-growth businesses in a region that is both underpenetrated and underserved in broadband, mobile data and pay TV services.”

The integration will be in the hands of John Reid, the new interim CEO of CWC and former president of Columbus Communications, which CWC bought in 2015. Reid takes over from Phil Bentley, the outgoing CEO of CWC.

Reid said: “By leveraging Liberty Global’s scale and management expertise I’m convinced we will accelerate innovation, enhance the speed and quality of our networks and expand opportunities for all stakeholders.”

The combined operations will serve 10 million video, voice, broadband and mobile subscribers in more than 20 countries. They are expected to generate over $3.5 billion of revenue a year.

LiLAC’s existing 3,600 employees will be joined by CWC’s 3,600.

CWC was the last remaining element of the old UK company Cable & Wireless. Vodafone bought the other part, Cable & Wireless Worldwide, for just over £1 billion in 2012.