Taiwan's Wei family to buy cable TV operator CNS for $2.4 billion: source

By Reuters

Aug 25, 2014 12:29 AM EDT

Taiwan's Wei family has agreed to buy ChinaNetwork Systems (CNS), the nation's biggest cable TV operator, for about $2.4 billion including debt from private equity firm MBK Partners, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Sunday.

The Wei family, who controls Hong Kong-listed noodle maker Tingyi Cayman Islands Holding Corp, is making the investment in a personal capacity with support from other Taiwanese businessmen, the person added.

The deal is subject to Taiwan's regulatory approval. At the closure of the deal, CNS would have a debt of about $1 billion, the person added.

CNS is the largest cable television and broadband multiple-systems operator in Taiwan, with about 1.2 million subscribers and has about 20 percent market share.

This is MBK's second attempt to sell CNS after regulatory delay and conditional approval led to the collapse of a previous deal with a group led by Want Want China Holdings in 2010. Want Want is one of China's biggest rice cake makers and owner of a media conglomerate in Taiwan.

That deal became embroiled in controversy after Want Want's chairman, Tsai Yen-ming, made pro-China comments in a newspaper interview in February 2012.

Wei family's personal investment in the acquisition and lack of other media businesses is expected help smooth regulatory clearance of the deal this time, the person added.

MBK, which owns 60 percent of CNS, made the investment in 2007. The Asia-focused buyout firm has more then $6.3 billion under management.

A phone call made to Wei family's Ting Hsin International Group in Taipei was not answered. MBK did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Morgan Stanley is advising MBK, while UBS AG is advising the Wei family.

Morgan Stanley and UBS declined to comment. The person declined to be identified as the information is not public.

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