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EU probes $22-billion Vodafone, Liberty Global deal on antitrust concerns

The European Commission said some rivals might be shut out of the Czech market, where Vodafone offers mainly mobile telephony services and Liberty Global offers fixed services

Reuters  |  Brussels 


Vodafone's purchase of Liberty Global's assets in and may damage competition in and the Czech Republic, EU antitrust regulators said on Tuesday, as they opened a full-scale probe into the $21.8 billion deal.

The deal between the world's second-largest and U.S. cable pioneer John Malone's Liberty would enable to compete more effectively with in the German rival's home market.

It also expands Vodafone's reach in broadband, cable and mobile services elsewhere in as it includes assets in the Czech Republic, and

The said some rivals might be shut out of the Czech market, where offers mainly services and offers fixed services.

In Germany, the deal might reduce competition in the and retail TV markets, curb investments in next-generation networks and give the merged firm more power as a TV broadcaster, the EU competition enforcer said.

It saw no issues in and and said it will decide whether to clear the deal by May 2. The deadline can be extended if offers concessions.

reported on Nov. 30 that the watchdog was set to launch a full-scale probe into the deal.

Vodafone said it still expected EU approval by mid-2019.

"On balance, we conclude based on the language in the press release that this transaction remains on track for a Phase II approval and closing," Bernstein wrote in client note.

The telecoms industry is hoping for a lighter regulatory touch from the Commission after it cleared without conditions Deutsche Telekom's bid to acquire Tele2's Dutch despite earlier qualms.

Telefonica Deutschland, which has called for the deal to be blocked, said it expected Vodafone to make every effort to avert the negative effects singled out by the Commission.

First Published: Tue, December 11 2018. 23:54 IST