A unit of Liberty Global has been given the green light by the European Commission to hold a 28% stake in Belgium’s biggest broadband cable operator by subscribers, Telenet. The Commission also said it had cleared Telenet’s acquisition of cable operator UPC Belgium from Liberty Global, in a EUR187 million (USD246.3 million) deal linked to the takeover of Telenet. Telenet plans to close the transaction by the end of the year. UPC has 125,000 subscribers in Belgium.
The Commission said it had investigated the effects of the planned merger on the Belgian cable TV market at the retail and wholesale levels. ‘At the cable TV retail level, the only geographic area where the proposed merger would result in overlapping cable networks is (the Dutch-speaking city of) Leuven,’ it said in a statement. ‘The parties’ increased network coverage in Belgium would be marginal and would not change the competitive situation to any significant extent,’ it added. At the wholesale level, the Commission said UPC Belgium’s small subscriber base meant ‘the proposed transaction would not result in a substantial change in the merged entity’s position vis-a-vis TV broadcasters and channel providers.’