UK-based Vodafone Group’s proposed acquisition of Liberty Global’s subsidiaries in the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and Romania has been given the go-ahead by the EC. In a press release confirming its decision, however, the European agency noted that its approval for the deal was conditional on full compliance with a commitments package that had been offered by Vodafone Group.
To address the EC’s concerns regarding how the deal could affect competition, specifically in Germany, it has been confirmed that Vodafone has agreed: to provide a remedy taker – already identified by Vodafone as Telefonica – with access to the merged entity’s cable network in Germany; to refrain from contractually restricting, directly or indirectly, the possibility for broadcasters that are carried on the merged entity’s TV platform to also distribute their content via an OTT service; not to increase the feed-in fees paid by Free-to-Air broadcasters for the transmission of their linear TV channels via Vodafone’s cable network in Germany by extending the existing agreements (or, where needed, by entering into new agreements); and to continue to carry the HbbTV signal of Free-to-Air broadcasters, which allows TV customers to be directly connected to the broadcasters’ interactive services.
On the back of the commitments the EC said it had concluded that the transaction would no longer raise competition concerns. Commenting, Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: ‘In our modern society access to affordable and good quality broadband and TV services is almost as asked for as running water. We have today approved Vodafone’s purchase of Liberty Global’s business in Czechia, Germany, Hungary and Romania subject to remedies designed to ensure that customers will continue enjoying fair prices, high-quality services and innovative products.’