Italian ISP Tiscali has struck a deal to buy its French rival LibertySurf for 650 million euro ($620m), making it the largest independent internet service provider in Europe.

Tiscali is purchasing 73% of the French ISP, currently owned by British retail conglomerate Kingfisherand investment group Europ@web. A further offer for the residual shares on the Parisian stock exchange is expected in the next few days.

LibertySurf adds 900,000 French subscribers to Tiscali’s tally, bringing its total to 4.7m, lagging only Deutsche Telekom’s T-Online with 7m. Also important will be the 260m euros in cash LibertySurf brings with it.

Tiscali’s chairman and founder Renato Soru declared that the group would stay on the hunt for further ISP additions in the UK, Spain and Germany. He also vowed that Tiscali would continue to offer free internet access.

News source: Financial Times