EU approves Vodafone-Liberty Global JV

European Union antitrust regulators approved Wednesday plans by Liberty Global PLC and Vodafone Group PLC to set up a multibillion-dollar Dutch telecoms joint venture on the condition Vodafone sheds its consumer fixed-line business in the Netherlands.

Vodafone in February said it would pay Liberty Global EUR1 billion ($1.12 billion) to combine Liberty Global’s Dutch cable and internet businesses with Vodafone’s local mobile business. The deal would value the 50-50 joint venture at roughly EUR3.5 billion in terms of combined revenue and capital expenditure, after integration costs.

The European Commission, the bloc’s antitrust regulator, said it initially had concerns the deal would reduce competition in the markets for fixed multiple play services and fixed-mobile multiple play services in the Netherlands but that the divestment offered fully addresses the potential problem.

“The commitments offered by Vodafone ensure that Dutch consumers will continue to enjoy competitive prices and good choice,” said EU Antitrust Chief Margrethe Vestager.

The EU on Wednesday also said it had rejected a request by the Dutch competition authority to transfer the merger review to the regulator in the Netherlands, saying it was better placed to deal with the case and to ensure that telecoms mergers are assessed in a consistent way.

Transferring the review to the national regulator may have complicated the chances of the deal being cleared.

Source: MarketWatch