Telenor Group’s proposed sale of its assets in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) to Netherlands-based private investment fund PPF Group, which is controlled by the Czech entrepreneur Petr Kellner, has been approved by the European Commission (EC), the latter has announced. The transaction – which is expected to be completed in Q3 2018 and has been valued at NOK27 billion (USD3.3 billion) – includes Telenor’s wholly owned mobile operations in Hungary, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Serbia, and the technology service provider Telenor Common Operation. Kellner’s Group already owns significant telecoms assets in the CEE, including 81.1% of O2 Czech Republic and its O2 Slovakia unit, and 100% of Czech infrastructure provider Ceska telekomunikacni infrastruktura (Czech Telecommunications Infrastructure, or CETIN).
In confirming its decision, the EC said it had found that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns. Specifically, it said the deal would not give rise to horizontal overlaps, as the involved companies’ activities are confined to the different territories in which they hold their respective telecommunication licences. Further, it said it had determined that the vertical links between the upstream markets for wholesale international roaming and wholesale mobile and fixed call termination services and the downstream markets for retail mobile and fixed telecoms services arising from the transaction would be unproblematic. As such, having examined the transaction under the normal merger review procedure, the EC confirmed it would approve it under the EU Merger Regulation.