The Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM) has decided that further investigation is needed into major telco KPN’s proposed takeover of MVNO/fixed broadband/pay-TV provider Youfone. ACM stated that the deal ‘may remove important competitive pressure in the budget or no-frills segment of the mobile telecommunications services market’ which it said ‘could lead to higher prices or a poorer offer for consumers.’ As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, KPN agreed to purchase Youfone for approximately EUR200 million (USD219 million) in June.
ACM’s latest statement elaborated: ‘Youfone is a rapidly growing and highly competitive provider of mobile telecom services in particular and focuses on a broad target group. It does this with a limited number of competitively priced subscriptions. These are so-called no-frills subscriptions. This positioning ensures that Youfone puts pressure on the prices of other telecom service providers. Youfone does not have its own network and uses KPN’s mobile network. Youfone could also use the Odido [formerly branded T-Mobile] and VodafoneZiggo networks. This may strengthen Youfone’s position in negotiations with KPN about the use of the network and contribute to Youfone’s ability to compete competitively on price. The acquisition may worsen competition in the no-frills segment of the mobile telecommunications services market. ACM will investigate this further in a follow-up study [and] will also investigate whether other providers can take over Youfone’s role as a driver of competition.’