Liberty's interest in Vodafone, ITV thwarted by valuations - Malone

05/11/2017 | 05:41am
John Malone

LONDON (Reuters) - Liberty Global's John Malone says he is open to doing separate deals with Vodafone and British broadcaster ITV, but has yet to make the valuations work.

Malone told the Financial Times in an interview that Liberty "just couldn't quite get there on valuation," with Vodafone.

"The door is always open and the telephone number is published," Malone told the FT. "Vittorio (Colao, Vodafone's CEO) is a fine fellow and they're a great company but sometimes it's difficult where you see the synergy."

Europe's leading cable operator has been one of the most acquisitive in recent years and has long been linked with Vodafone, the world's second largest mobile operator, and ITV.

Liberty and Vodafone have held talks in the past but have so far only announced a joint venture in the Netherlands.

Malone was quoted by the FT on Thursday as saying he would love to do a deal with ITV, Britain's biggest free-to-air commercial broadcaster in which Liberty already has a 10 percent stake, but that it did not work at today's price.

"Would I love Liberty Global to own ITV? Sure. Do I think that the price it trades at it makes any economic sense? Today, no."

ITV, which owns an international production arm and a British broadcast business, has been seen as a potential takeover target for some time, and its shares fell sharply when Britain voted to leave the European Union last June.

Malone said the group, which has a market value of 7.8 billion pounds, had effectively "been in play" for a couple of years.

"They trade at a pretty full valuation today and there are uncertainties going forward. How will they be affected by over-the-top streaming?" he said, of the offerings provided by the likes of Netflix and Amazon.

ITV trades on a price to earnings ratio for the next 12 months of 12.04 according to Reuters data, below European peers such as Prosiebensat, TF1 and Mediaset.

(Reporting by Kate Holton)

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