Orange Belgium has won conditional approval from the EC to acquire operator VOO following a lengthy competition investigation. The deal received the green light on Monday after Orange had earlier committed to provide Liberty Global unit Telenet access for at least ten years to the existing fibre network infrastructure it is acquiring from VOO and sister company Brutele in the Walloon region and parts of Brussels, as well as Orange’s future fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) network. ‘These commitments fully address the competition concerns identified by the Commission. The Commission therefore concluded that the proposed transaction, as modified by the commitments, would no longer raise competition concerns,’ the European antitrust regulator said in a statement. Orange hopes to complete the transaction by the end of Q2 2023.
Orange agreed to acquire 75% minus one share of regional quad-play services operator VOO in late 2021, based on an enterprise value of EUR1.8 billion (USD1.93 billion). While the deal made strategic sense for Orange, the EC expressed concerns that it would reduce the number of operators from three to two in areas covered by VOO and Brutele’s own fixed networks; reduce competition in the fixed internet, audio-visual services and multi-play markets; and reduce retail price competition in the affected markets.
Welcoming the decision, Xavier Pichon, CEO of Orange Belgium, said: ‘After more than 25 years of Orange’s presence in Belgium, the acquisition of VOO is a major step and will enable us to operate a very high-speed network in Wallonia and part of Brussels, thereby reinforcing the deployment of our convergent multigigabit strategy at a national level. Our ambitious investment plan, in combination with VOO’s and Orange’s skills and expertise, will strengthen the quality of our offers to customers and ensure competitiveness in the Walloon and Brussels regions.’