Wei family agrees to buy Taiwan’s biggest cable TV operator for US$2.4b

Controlling investors of noodle maker Tingyi to pay US$2.4 billion for Taiwanese firm

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 August, 2014, 2:53pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 August, 2014, 12:35am

Taiwan's Wei family has agreed to buy majority control of China Network Systems (CNS), the island's biggest cable-television operator, for about US$2.4 billion including debt from private equity firm MBK Partners, sources said.

The Wei family, who controls noodle maker Tingyi (Cayman Islands) Holding Corp, is diversifying into telecommunications and media. Its new 4G wireless services firm, Taiwan Star, will begin services this week.

The family, led by Wei Ying-chiao, would be making the investment in CNS in a personal capacity and would also ask other businessmen to invest, the sources said.

"We won this deal because we worked very hard on this for a long time," said a person close to the family. "This is not final yet. We still need the blessing of Taiwan's regulators."

If successful, the CNS purchase will rank as Taiwan's third-biggest merger and acquisition deal, matching American International Group's US$2.4 billion sale of its Taiwan unit in 2011.

MBK owns 60 per cent of CNS, which has about 1.2 million subscribers. CNS competes with Kbro and several other small rivals.

The family source said it planned to hold more than 50 per cent of the company and that businessmen who might be tapped to invest included Cathay Financial Holding chairman Tsai Hong-tu and Gou Tai-chiang, the chairman of electronics parts firm Cheng Uei Precision Industry.

The Wei family beat rival bidders Hon Hai Precision Industry and Far EasTone Telecommunications, the person said.

This is the Asia-focused buyout firm's second attempt to sell CNS after regulatory delays helped cause the collapse of a previous deal with a group led by Want Want China Holdings, a rice cake maker and owner of a Taiwanese media conglomerate.

Want Want chairman Tsai Eng-meng also owns 48 per cent of Asia Television.