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Heavyweights ready NT$70 bil. CNS bid

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Reports indicate that a number of enterprise heavyweights are poised to vie for the acquisition of CNS (中嘉), a cable television operator with total bids estimated to exceed NT$70 billion.

According to sources familiar with the industry, in addition to the Ting Hsin International Group (頂新集團), Tsai Hong-tu (蔡宏圖), chairman of Cathay Financial Holdings (國泰金), Gou Tai-chiang (郭台強), chairman of Cheng Uei Precision Industry Co. (正崴), and Lin Hong-nan (林鴻南), a magnate of the Hung Tai Group (宏泰集團) are poised to submit acquisition bids for CNS in their own personal capacity.

The acquisition is poised to be reviewed by the National Communication Commission (NCC) on Tuesday.

Plans by CNS majority shareholder MBK Partners to sell the cable television operator to Want Want China Holdings (旺中) fell through in 2012, after the prospective buyer's perceived pro-China stance drew the irk of the NCC, who imposed stringent counter-monopoly requirements. Since then, CNS has remained a coveted acquisition target for heavyweight enterprises seeking to bolster a hold on media and telecoms services markets.

With its estimated 1.18 million subscribers, CNS is one of Taiwan's largest cable TV operators.

Most notably, industry experts stated that the Ting Hsin International Group is especially motivated acquire CNS, as the company plans to complete its telecoms presence with a cable TV operator in addition to its Taiwan Star (台灣之星) mobile network operating arm, and allow the company to compete head to head with the likes of Chunghwa Telecom (中華電信).

The NCC noted that as the CNS is largely owned by MBK Partners, a foreign company, special considerations will be taken in the acquisition assessment. In addition, given CNS's high subscriber count and its status as the largest cable TV operator in Taiwan, the transaction will also require the approval of the Fair Trade Commission (公平會).

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