Germany’s competition watchdog, the Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt), has asked the European Commission for permission to review Vodafone Group’s proposed acquisition of cableco Unitymedia from Liberty Global. In May Liberty Global agreed to sell its operations in Germany, Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic to UK-based Vodafone Group and the pair filed for EU antitrust approval for the EUR19.0 billion (USD21.8 billion) deal last month. ‘In our opinion, the case offers a partial referral. The effects of the merger affect Germany in particular. Here, the acquisition of Unitymedia could lead to very significant changes in the market conditions in the field of cable television and telecommunications, commented Andreas Mundt, President of the Federal Cartel Office.
The European Merger Regulation provides that a procedure initially based on formal criteria, such as the turnover of the undertakings concerned, the European Commission, may, under certain conditions, be referred, in whole or in part, to one or more Member States. In the case of a referral, the competition authority of the Member State will conduct the merger control review in accordance with its respective national competition law.