The European Commission has approved Vodafone’s acquisition of Liberty Global’s cable business in the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and Romania, conditional on full compliance with a commitments package offered by Vodafone.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager 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.”
The Commission raised concerns that the transaction would “eliminate the important competitive constraint exerted by the merging companies on each other in the market for the retail supply of fixed broadband services” in Germany.
However, no competition concerns were found over prices or quality “in any of the retail TV markets in Germany, because the merging companies are mainly active within their respective cable areas. The Commission found no evidence of a loss of direct, indirect or potential competition as a result of the transaction.”
Vodafone offered the following commitments:
- 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
- To continue to carry the HbbTV signal of free-to-air broadcasters, allowing TV customers to be directly connected to the broadcasters’ interactive services
The Commission concluded that under these commitments, the transaction would no longer raise competition concerns.