Liberty-Kabel deal would face antitrust complications, FCO says

27 Jun 2013

The head of Germany’s Federal Cartel Office (FCO) has told reporters at a press conference in Bonn that a takeover of Kabel Deutschland (KDG) by rival Liberty Global would face more antitrust hurdles than the cableco’s acquisition by Vodafone Group, Reuters reports. Earlier this week Vodafone agreed to buy KDG, the country’s largest cable operator by subscribers, for EUR7.7 billion (USD10.04 billion), but FCO president Andreas Mundt said that if US-owned Liberty Global were to return with a counter bid it would face difficulties due to competition issues. Liberty is still considering its options following the Vodafone offer for KDG, a person familiar with the deliberations told Reuters.

The US media group, which is controlled by John Malone, already owns the country’s second largest cableco, Unitymedia KabelBW, which was formed last year from the consolidation of Unitymedia and Kabel BW; the US firm had originally purchased the two companies in early 2010 and late 2011, respectively. Mundt also said that Liberty’s EUR3.16 billion takeover of Kabel BW was approved only after a range of conditions were imposed on the deal, since it already owned Unitymedia. Reuters adds that Liberty may still face a setback in its acquisition of Kabel BW, after Deutsche Telekom (DT) challenged the approval decision last year in a court case which opened on Wednesday. During a hearing in Dusseldorf the terms of the Kabel BW deal were closely questioned again, a spokesman for the court said, adding that a ruling on the case is expected on 12 July and could refer the matter back to the FCO.

Germany, Kabel Deutschland, Liberty Global (incl. LGI), Unitymedia, Vodafone Germany, Vodafone Group