Vodafone Group says deal for Liberty Global assets remains on track despite EC

3 Apr 2019

UK-based telecoms giant Vodafone Group expects to be able to keep to its original timeline for the completion of a deal to acquire Liberty Global’s UPC/Unitymedia-branded operations in Germany, Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic, despite having been sent a statement laying out potential antitrust concerns by the EC.

As reported by Bloomberg, in the wake of receiving feedback on its acquisition plans from the European authorities, Vodafone Group was cited as saying: ‘We still expect to receive final approval in the middle of this year.’ With Vodafone Group adding that it will review the statement sent to it ‘and continue [its] constructive dialogue’ with the EC, it is understood that the latter has narrowed its focus to issues relating solely to Germany. According to the report, which cites unnamed sources familiar with the contents of the EC’s statement, there are three issues under examination, first and foremost being concern over the potential overlap in cable-broadband services within the combined company in Germany. Additionally, there are worries over the increased bargaining power Vodafone would have in talks with broadcasters over media rights and wholesaling broadcast signals to local operators. Meanwhile, it has been claimed the European officials have set aside concerns about eastern European overlaps that had previously outlined by the EC in December.

At present the EU has until 3 June 2019 to rule on the proposed deal, though this deadline could be extended.