Mon, Aug 25, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Ting Hsin Group agrees to buy CNS

HEALTHY COMPETITION:Ting Hsin outbid two rivals for the right to purchase China Network Systems, which will help the conglomerate compete in the telecom market

By Kevin Chen  /  Staff writer

Ting Hsin International Group (頂新集團) has agreed to acquire local cable TV operator China Network Systems Co (CNS, 中嘉網路) for between NT$60 billion and NT$70 billion (US$2 billion and US$2.33 billion) from private equity fund MBK Partners Ltd, local media reported yesterday.

Ting Hsin, which owns snack and beverage maker Tingyi (Cayman Islands) Holding Corp (康師傅控股), reportedly outbid Hon Hai Group (鴻海集團) and Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) by offering NT$56.50 per subscriber to secure the 60 percent stake in China Network Systems held by MBK, the reports said.

The purchase would help Ting Hsin — whose telecom subsidiary Taiwan Star Cellular Corp (台灣之星) is set to launch its 4G service today — compete with Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) and Taiwan Mobile Corp (台灣大哥大) in the digital convergence market by providing services on mobile phones, cable TV and fixed-line networks.

In the case of MBK, the sale would help it collect more than double the NT$30.9 billion it spent buying China Network’s stock from the Koo (辜) family in 2006. The private equity fund in 2012 planned to sell its majority stake in China Network System to Want Want China Times Group (旺旺集團), but the deal failed to get a regulatory green light last year from the National Communications Commission (NCC).

Want Want China Times Group, a Taiwanese conglomerate with major interests in food and beverage manufacturing in China, also owns two daily newspapers, a terrestrial TV network, a cable TV network and a magazine, and its intention to buy China Network Systems had raised grave concerns over a potential media monopoly in Taiwan.

China Network Systems is one of the nation’s leading multiple-service operators, with 11 cable TV services under its wings. According to the Fair Trade Commission, the operator has a market share of about 23 percent, with 1.185 million subscribers.

Ting Hsin and MBK are likely to sign a draft agreement as soon as this week, making it the largest acquisition this year in Taiwan, the reports said. The share sale is still subject to regulatory review at both the Fair Trade Commission and the National Communications Commission.

In 2010, the communications commission agreed to Fubon Group’s purchase of Kbro Co (凱擘), the nation’s largest cable TV operator, from the Carlyle Group for about NT$65.3 billion, with about 33 percent of market share. Fubon also owns Taiwan Mobile.

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