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European deals through Jan. 30: Vodafone, Sky, Liberty Media

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European deals through Jan. 30: Vodafone, Sky, Liberty Media

The European edition of M&A Replay presents a weekly wrap-up of European media and communications deal announcements, completions and updates.

TOP NEWS

* Liberty Media Corp. said Jan. 23 that it completed its acquisition of London-based motorsports business Formula One Administration Ltd. from a consortium of sellers in a deal with an enterprise value of $8 billion and an equity value of $4.4 billion. In the wake of the acquisition, Formula 1 appointed current Chairman Chase Carey as CEO, with Bernie Ecclestone as chairman emeritus. Greg Maffei will remain as deputy board chairman. Liberty Media Group plans to rebrand itself as the Formula One Group following deal completion.

M&A Media

* Modern Times Group sold its 50% stake in Czech free-to-air broadcaster Prima to Czech company Denemo Media for an enterprise value of €237.4 million, Digital TV Europe reported Jan. 25. MTG plans on using the deal's net proceeds to increase its stake in German online games developer InnoGames to 51% from 21%.

* Live Nation Entertainment Inc. acquired a controlling interest in U.K.-based festivals promoter Cuffe & Taylor, as part of plans to expand its presence in Britain, according to a Jan. 23 news release. Cuffe & Taylor promotes the Lytham Festival and Greenwich Music Time, among other events. Current Cuffe & Taylor joint directors Daniel Cuffe and Peter Taylor will continue to lead the British promoter.

* AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. said Jan. 23 that it agreed to buy Stockholm-based Nordic Cinema Group Holding AB from European private equity company Bridgepoint and Swedish media group Bonnier Holding for 8.25 billion Swedish kronor, or US$929 million. The boards of AMC and Nordic Cinema's ownership group have approved the deal, which is expected to be completed before June 30, and is conditional upon antitrust clearance by the European Commission. Nordic Cinema's current management team will continue to lead the company, with some of the executives expected to assume increased pan-European responsibilities for AMC and its Odeon unit. Nordic Cinema will become a subsidiary of Odeon, and will continue to operate under local Nordic and Baltic brand names. Dalian Wanda Group Co. Ltd. owns AMC Entertainment.

M&A Communications

* Vodafone Group Plc has confirmed media reports that it is in discussions to combine its Indian unit Vodafone India with rival operator Idea Cellular via an all-share deal. In a Jan. 30 statement, the British telco said it is in talks with Idea Cellular's parent, Indian conglomerate Aditya Birla Group, but added that the talks may not lead to a deal. The merger would be done via the issuance of new Idea Cellular shares to Vodafone, potentially resulting in Vodafone deconsolidating Vodafone India. The talks exclude Vodafone's 42% stake in Indus Towers.

* Sky plc said Jan. 23 that it acquired a majority stake in British production company True North and invested in U.K. TV drama production company Chrysalis Vision. As part of the deal, Sky's production and distribution arm Sky Vision will be the commercial and distribution partner for True North and Chrysalis Vision's worldwide content. Channel 4 (UK) is exiting its entire investment in True North following Sky's stake purchase in the latter.