The European Commission (EC) has approved the merger of Vodafone Netherlands and Liberty Global’s Dutch cableco subsidiary Ziggo (formerly UPC). The Commission’s competition authority agreed to the deal after Vodafone offered to sell off its consumer fixed line operations in the Netherlands to remove the overlap between the two merging operations. Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said: ‘The telecoms market is of strategic importance for our digital society. I am pleased that we have been able to approve the creation of the joint venture between Vodafone and Liberty Global in the Netherlands. The commitments offered by Vodafone ensure that Dutch consumers will continue to enjoy competitive prices and good choice.’
Vodafone is the second largest cellular operator in the Dutch market behind KPN, while Ziggo is the country’s largest provider of fixed broadband services. Meanwhile, Vodafone claimed 123,000 fixed internet subscribers in the Netherlands at the end of June 2016, up from 61,000 twelve months earlier. Tele2 Netherlands has been linked as one potential buyer for its ISP business, with the Swedish-owned firm looking to create its own converged fixed-mobile operation to challenge the dominant duo of KPN and Ziggo/Vodafone. Earlier this year the EC approved a similar merger deal in Belgium, where Liberty Global’s Telenet unit acquired KPN’s local mobile subsidiary BASE Company.