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Liberty Global's Fries Sees Sunrise as Possible Swiss Partner

Ed Hammond
Mike Fries, chief executive officer of Liberty Global Plc. Photographer: Simon Dawson

Sunrise Communications Group AG is one of the Swiss operators being looked at as a potential partner for Liberty Global Plc, said Mike Fries, chief executive officer of the cable TV giant.

Liberty Global is primarily focused on improving its network and product, while also “playing on the side with some opportunities,” Fries said.

Asked in a Bloomberg TV interview Monday whether a deal with Sunrise was a possibility, Fries said, “There aren’t many operators in the market, so that would be one of them.”

Liberty Global and Sunrise were in talks about a potential partnership to combine and expand their businesses in Switzerland, people with knowledge of the matter said in March.

The people said the discussions were in the early stages and were seen as potentially paving the way for a joint venture between Liberty’s UPC unit and Zurich-based Sunrise, which has a market value of about 4 billion Swiss francs ($4.2 billion). The companies are working with advisers as they evaluate strategic options, they said.

The combined business’s structure could mirror the deal that billionaire John Malone engineered two years ago for London-based Liberty Global, his European cable-TV company, with Vodafone Group Plc in the Netherlands, the people said. Liberty Global and Vodafone, the world’s second-largest mobile carrier, in 2016 agreed to combine their Dutch businesses to create a provider of internet, TV and mobile services.

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