The European Commission has approved Vodafone’s €18.4 billion acquisition of Liberty Global’s central European cable networks.
In one of his final acts as CEO, former Vodafone chief Vittorio Colao reached an agreement to buy the networks in the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, and Romania in May last year.
The move is designed to accelerate Vodafone’s converged network and make it Europe’s largest ‘next generation network’ (NGN) provider. The company’s fibre footprint will increase to 110 million across the continent, including 54 million on its own infrastructure.
Vodafone Liberty Global
Vodafone has invested significantly in fixed infrastructure, building or acquiring networks in Spain, Italy, Germany and Portugal, while it has wholesale agreements in other markets, including the UK.
EU approval had been one of the final obstacles to the transaction. The EC found there were no major concerns that prices would rise or the quality of services would decrease and said it would grant is blessing so long as certain remedies, such as wholesale access, came into effect.
“In our modern society access to affordable and good quality broadband and TV services is almost as asked for as running water,” said European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.
“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.”
Despite opposition from Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone said it had no concerns about competition being negatively impacted because Vodafone and Liberty Global’s German cable assets did not overlap.
“With the European Commission’s approval of this transaction, Vodafone transforms into Europe’s largest fully-converged communications operator, accelerating innovation through our gigabit networks and bringing greater benefits to millions of customers in Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania,” added Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read. “This is a significant step toward enabling truly digital societies for our customers.”