TV3 sale: UPC Ireland owners Liberty Global conducting due diligence
Liberty Global, the US cable giant owned by billionaire John Malone, is currently conducting due diligence on Irish broadcaster TV3 with a view to buying the business.
While talks are at an advanced stage, a deal is not expected for several months and would require ministerial and regulatory clearance, according to the Irish Times.
TV3’s sale is being handled by London-based corporate adviser Quayle Munro and the station’s owners reportedly are looking for a price of between €120m and €150m.
Although a number of other possible buyers have been mooted, including US based management fund Carlyle Group, it is understood that Liberty is currently the most likely buyer of the station and has been conducting due diligence for some time.
Liberty Global owns the UPC Ireland cable TV, telephone and broadband company.
Doughty Hanson has owned TV3 since 2006 but speculation about the future of the stake in the Irish TV station and about the private equity firm's other interests has mounted after an announcement last month that the European private equity firm was dropping a fundraising effort aimed at raising cash to buy companies, and would instead focus on its remaining portfolio.
The firm had been trying to raise capital for its sixth fund, but will now try to "maximise the value" of its remaining companies.
The most common way for a private equity house to maximise value is by selling businesses.
Doughty Hanson funded its TV3 takeover with loans from Anglo Irish Bank. In 2010 the then Irish Bank Resolution Corp agreed a restructuring deal to ease the terms on a share of the debt.
Then, in 2013 Doughty Hanson bought back the TV3 debt when they were put up for sale by the liquidators of IBRC, effectively allowing the business to cancel its own loans.
Accounts for TV3 show it returned to profit after that deal, helped by an exceptional gain of €8.9m that resulted from the redemption of the loans.