Sunrise shareholders accept Liberty Global tender offer

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ZURICH, Oct 9 (Reuters)Liberty Global LBTYA.O cleared a key hurdle in its all-cash 6.8 billion Swiss franc ($7.43 billion) tender for Switzerland’s Sunrise Communications SRCG.S, with provisional results on Friday showing an acceptance rate of nearly 82%.

In the surprise deal announced in August, Liberty Global offered 110 Swiss francs per share in Sunrise, Switzerland’s No. 2 telecoms company. One condition was that it get at least two thirds of the shares.

Shares closed on Thursday at 109 francs, up 43% this year.

An additional acceptance period now runs until Oct. 28. Liberty Global intends to initiate a squeeze-out procedure and delist Sunrise shares from trading on the SIX Swiss Exchange once the deal is set.

The agreed deal reversed Sunrise’s failed bid to buy Liberty’s Swiss business last year and marked a strategic reversal by the U.S. company, which had been divesting European assets.

Sunrise’s bid to buy Liberty Global’s Swiss cable business UPC last year collapsed in the face of opposition from Sunrise’s biggest shareholder, Germany’s Freenet FNTGn.DE, and activist investors including Axxion and AOC, who baulked at the price.

Freenet, which owns 24% of Sunrise, had committed to tender its shares for Liberty Global’s bid.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is the latest sign of consolidation in the telecom industry as companies try to cut costs and ramp up investments in technology.

($1 = 0.9154 Swiss francs)

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Maria Sheahan)

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