The EC has approved the proposed acquisition of Austrian cable operator UPC by Deutsche Telekom’s local wireless unit T-Mobile without imposing conditions on the deal. The Commission concluded that the transaction would raise no competition concerns as the companies’ activities and assets are largely complementary. UPC’s main activities are related to the provision of fixed telecoms services, while T-Mobile is mainly active in the mobile sector. Where there is overlap, i.e. in the home internet access market, Brussels found that each operators’ products differ both in terms of the underlying technology and product characteristics and as a result are not closely competing.
The EC also found that the merged entity would continue to face significant competition from other players such as the incumbent A1 Telekom Austria and Hutchison Drei Austria, while it also concluded that the merged entity would not be able to use its market power to shut out or marginalise its fixed or mobile competitors by bundling fixed and mobile products.
UK-based Liberty Global agreed to sell 100% of its UPC-branded cable provider in Austria to T-Mobile Austria for an enterprise value of EUR1.9 billion (USD2.3 billion) in December last year. The move will enable T-Mobile to become a full-service provider and offer convergent product bundles to its customer base, although the UPC brand may be used for up to three years. The deal is expected to close on 31 July 2018, with joint offers set for launch next year.