A year after purchasing the Polish mobile operator Play, billionaire Xavier Niel’s Iliad Group has now announced it will purchase UPC Poland from Liberty Global
Today, Iliad has announced that it will purchase Liberty Global’s Polish broadband unit UPC Polska, the number two fixed line player in the company.
The agreement will see 100% of the company’s fixed assets handed to Iliad’s Polish mobile subsidiary Play, in a move that will see Play offer converged fixed and mobile services for the first time.
Iliad itself purchased Play around this time last year in a transaction worth around $4.3 billion. Since then, the mobile unit has grown, overtaking T-Mobile as the country’s second largest mobile operator by market share, though still trailing market leader Orange.
UPC’s position in the fixed market is somewhat similar. Orange again leads the competition here with around 24.3% of the market, with UPC comfortably in second place at 15.9%.
Thus, the combination of the two second place players in their respective markets represents a significant shift in market dynamics. Play currently serves around 15 million mobile customers, while UPC serves around 1.5 million fixed line customers on its network, which covers around 3.6 million households.
"At Iliad/Play we are determined to invest in next-generation mobile and broadband networks and services. This long-term ambition to foster nationwide connectivity will contribute to the digital transformation of the Polish economy and benefit the consumers and businesses with more innovative and comprehensive offers," explained Iliad’s CEO Thomas Reynaud.
The deal should not come as a huge surprise. Rumours of discussions between the two companies were first reported in early August but were somewhat overshadowed by owner Xavier Niel’s announcement that he was engaged in the process of buying up all of Iliad’s shares in order to take the company private. In July, Niel announced he owned 71% of Iliad’s shares and seeking to purchase the remaining shares for a roughly 50% premium.
As always, this deal is subject to regulatory approval. It is expected to close at some point during the first half of 2022.
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