×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Liberty Global, Vodafone’s $22 Billion Cable Deal Under Investigation by EU

The European Commission has started an in-depth probe into Vodafone’s proposed acquisition of a raft of Liberty Global assets in Europe. The commission cited concerns that the deal could reduce competition in Germany and the Czech Republic.

“It’s important that all EU consumers have access to affordable and good quality telephone and TV services,” Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who is in charge of competition policy, said. “Our in-depth investigation aims to ensure that Vodafone’s acquisition of Liberty Global’s telecommunications businesses in Czechia, Germany, Hungary and Romania will not lead to higher prices, less choice and reduced innovation in telecoms and TV services for consumers.”

In May, Liberty Global and Vodafone finally agreed to a long-expected deal for a range of cable operations in Europe. The agreement would see Vodafone fork out $22.7 billion for Liberty’s cable operations in Germany, Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic.

The commission outlined specific concerns such as areas where both parties have cable networks or overlapping products and services, the merger of which could squeeze rivals offering TV, telecoms, and broadband services.

In terms of TV, it said the “transaction could substantially increase the bargaining power of the merged entity vis-à-vis TV broadcasters” and this “could negatively impact these broadcasters’ ability to stay competitive and to invest.”

Vodafone and Liberty both said they still hope that the deal will be cleared by mid-2019. That remains possible as the current probe has to be completed within 90 days, meaning a deadline of May, 2019. German competition authorities have also asked the Commission that the German case be referred to them and are waiting to see if that happens.

“This is a pan-European transaction, looking to create a converged national challenger in four European markets,” Vodafone said in a statement. “We are confident that the transaction will be approved, as it will deliver increased consumer choice, more competition and further investment in high speed networks. We continue to expect final approval by mid-2019 in line with our original announcement.”

Mike Fries, Liberty Global’s CEO, also issued a statement in which he said the company would engage with the Commission and is confident of approval for the deal in mid-2019.

“This is welcome and expected news from the European Commission,” Fries said. “We always anticipated a second phase review given the size and scope of the transaction, and it is clear that the EU is retaining regulatory authority over the case. This provides us with the appropriate forum to demonstrate the consumer benefits that will be delivered by the creation of fully converged, fixed-mobile operators in these four markets.”

More Biz

  • Jordan Feldstein

    Roc Nation Seeks $11 Million From Insurer in Jordan Feldstein's Death

    Roc Nation filed a federal lawsuit Friday seeking $11 million from its insurance carrier following the death of Maroon 5 manager Jordan Feldstein. Roc Nation, a joint venture of Jay-Z and Live Nation Entertainment, partnered with Feldstein’s Career Artist Management in 2016. At the time, Roc Nation says it took out a “key man” life [...]

  • Walt Disney HQ LA

    Disney Unveils Financial Data for DTC Unit, Sets April 11 for Investor Presentation

    Disney has rejiggered its business segments for earnings reporting to make room for the new unit housing its global streaming operations. Disney on Friday released restated earnings for fiscal 2018, 2017 and 2016 to give investors and financial analysts better visibility into its spending on the launch of the Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and other [...]

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly Dropped by Sony Music

    Sony Music has decided to dissolve its working relationship with R. Kelly, Variety has learned. No external announcement of the move is planned in the immediate future, says a source, who added that the company took its time to wade through the issues “responsibly” and avoid legal ramifications. R. Kelly was removed from the RCA [...]

  • CAA HQ LA

    Ex-Agent Stuart Manashil Ordered to Repay CAA in Fraud Case

    Former literary agent Stuart Manashil was ordered on Thursday to repay a $23,975 commission to CAA, which he admitted he had illegally diverted to a friend. Manashil, who now runs his own management company, pleaded guilty in March 2018 to a federal wire fraud charge. In a letter to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, Manashil [...]

  • "The Continent," directed by Chinese racer

    Alibaba Pictures Buys Into Chinese Director Han Han's Film Studio

    Alibaba Pictures confirmed that it has invested an undisclosed amount in Chinese celebrity blogger-turned-film director Han Han’s Shanghai Tingdong Film. Han’s upcoming “Pegasus” is one of the most anticipated films of the year in China. Alibaba Pictures, part of e-commerce giant Alibaba, is now the second-largest stakeholder in Tingdong. It has a 13.1% stake, according to Chinese [...]

  • Phil McIntyre Steps Down as Roc

    Phil McIntyre Steps Down From Roc Nation Management, but Remains Affiliated With Company

    Phil McIntyre has stepped down as president of Roc Nation Management, but his PhilyMack management company remains affiliated with Roc, a source close to the situation tells Variety. PhilyMack, which McIntyre founded in 2006, partnered with Roc Nation in 2015. The source stressed that McIntyre’s role at Roc Nation Management  — whose clients include Rihanna, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content