Liberty Global

Liberty Global's global retreat

July 24, 2010: 10:45 AM ET

The company's doing just fine, but it has had to pull back in some regions after regulation and competition made it tough to do business there.

by Laura Rich, contributor

After a few years in France, Liberty Global (LBTYA) pulled up stakes and left. In South America, it retreated from seven countries down to one. "We realized it was never going to go our way," said Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries.

On a panel at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Fries and others discussed the challenges to expanding or investing in media abroad. For Liberty in France, the dominance of cable player Canal Plus over the infrastructure and content left it with little share of the market. In both regions, local business competition coupled with changes in regulation forced them out, he said.

Europe, in particular, has been no friend to media and technology companies, holding up mergers such as Oracle and Sun Microsystems and leveling accusations of privacy, copyright and antitrust against companies like Google and Microsoft.

Fries says this seeming distrust among officials in European governments creates a challenging environment.

"They actually think the Internet mafia IS the mafia in Europe," said Fries (pictured).

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