Liberty Global has sold its Eastern Europe operations to Vodafone in a deal worth €18.4 billion.
As part of the deal, Vodafone takes control of Unitymedia, the second-largest cable network in Germany, as well as the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania divisions of the central and eastern European brand UPC.
“This transaction will create the first truly converged pan-European champion of competition,” Vodafone chief executive officer Vittorio Colao said in a statement.
Vodafone will pay Liberty Global €10.8 billion cash and assume €7.6 billion of debt. The transaction is expected to complete in mid-2019.
The deal makes Vodafone a rival to current German market-leader Deutsche Telekom. According to CCS Insight analyst Paolo Pescatore, the deal is likely to face a tough time getting past regulators: "We strongly believe that regulators will block or restrict the deal. Vodafone and Liberty Global have a relatively solid presence in the fixed-line and TV markets, so any move would cut the number of companies in both segments."
The deal does not include the Liberty Global-owned Virgin Media in the UK.