×

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

  • Hayley Kiyoko Signs Global Publishing Deal

    Hayley Kiyoko Signs Global Publishing Deal With Kobalt

    Singer-songwriter-actor Hayley Kiyoko, seen most recently in a cameo in Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” video, has signed an exclusive worldwide publishing agreement with Kobalt, the company announced today. The partnership includes publishing administration, creative services and synch for all of her catalogue and future works. Jamie Kinelski, VP, Creative, Kobalt said, “Hayley [...]

  • billy porter gay pride todd snyder

    How Hollywood Is Celebrating Pride Month

    Pride Month officially wraps up this weekend with the WorldPride Parade in New York. It takes on special significance this year, as attendees mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. A number of artists and brands are also getting involved, launching “Pride-themed” collaborations and merchandise in an effort to boost their own visibility within [...]

  • Shawn Strickland, Tony DiSanto - Allyance

    Tony DiSanto's Allyance Media Taps Verizon Veteran Shawn Strickland as President (EXCLUSIVE)

    Shawn Strickland, a veteran of Verizon and Complex Media, has joined Tony DiSanto’s Allyance Media Group as president. In the role, Strickland is heading up business operations and spearheading partnerships for the multiformat media and production company. DiSanto and financier Matthew Bruderman formed Allyance Media Group last year. The New York-based company encompasses DIGA Studios, [...]

  • Andy Signore Screen Junkies

    'Honest Trailers' Creator Andy Signore Settles Defy Media Suit

    Andy Signore, the creator of Screen Junkies’ “Honest Trailers,” has settled a lawsuit against Defy Media challenging his firing for alleged sexual misconduct. Signore was one of the first figures to lose his job in the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein harassment revelations in October 2017. Defy Media, which then owned Screen Junkies, terminated him [...]

  • Singer-rapper Psy performs during the 70th

    YG Agency Boss Quits as K-Pop Scandals Expand

    Yang Hyun-suk last week resigned from his remaining positions at YG Entertainment. The talent agency he co-founded is deeply mired in a series of inter-linked scandals that stretch from drugs to prostitution. Problems started with the band Bigbang and its star Seungri, but now also encompass other YG artists. Hwang Bo-kyung was appointed as the [...]

  • NEW YORK, NY – JUNE, 24:

    LGBTQ Stars Honored at Variety’s Power of Pride Celebration

    New York City felt the full Power of Pride on Monday, as Variety celebrated its inaugural issue devoted to the annual recognition of LGBTQ people worldwide. At an intimate gathering at Mr. Purple, the rooftop bar at Hotel Indigo Lower East Side in Manhattan, Variety’s cover stars and luminaries gathered for cocktails and the unveiling [...]

  • Motown Seeks to Block 'O-Town' Trademark

    Motown Seeks to Block 'O-Town' Trademark

    UPDATED: The boy band O-Town briefly rose to fame in 2000, with a star turn on MTV’s reality series “Making the Band.” But the reformed group has just one obstacle to its efforts to trademark its name: Motown Recordings. The label’s parent company, Universal Music Group, is trying to block the band from registering “O-Town” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content