EC transfers inquiry into Kabel BW deal to Germany

17 Jun 2011

The European Commission (EC) has transferred jurisdiction over the investigation into Liberty Global’s planned acquisition of German cable operator Kabel BW to the local antitrust body, Reuters reports. The EC decided that the deal may impact on the provision of free TV services to housing associations, where contracts with tenants are negotiated collectively, and therefore should be referred to Germany’s Federal Cartel Office (FCO). ‘The commission’s preliminary investigation, conducted in close and trustful cooperation with the Bundeskartellamt [FCO], revealed that the proposed transaction risks significantly affecting competition for the retail supply of free TV services to housing associations in Germany,’ the EC said in a statement. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, the FCO requested a transfer of the probe into the Kabel BW deal last month, arguing that because the deal would mainly affect competition in Germany, the investigation should be transferred to the local antitrust authority.

US cable company Liberty Global emerged as the highest bidder to acquire Kabel BW from Swedish investment firm EQT in March 2011, beating bids from CVC and Hallman & Friedman with an offer of EUR3.16 billion (USD4.5 billion). There may be significant antitrust hurdles facing Liberty Global’s bid, as the US company already owns Germany’s second largest cableco by subscribers, Unitymedia.

Germany, Kabel BW, Liberty Global (incl. LGI), Unitymedia