EC extends probe into Liberty Global mobile acquisition

BASE CompanyThe European Commission has extended its investigation into Liberty Global’s planned €1.3 billion acquisition of KPN-owned Belgian mobile operator BASE until March 17, without giving further details. The Commission had earlier set a deadline of March 3.

The move comes after Liberty Global offered additional concessions to assuage concerns about the impact of competition in the Belgian mobile market. Liberty Global’s Belgian subsidiary Telenet already offers multi-play services in the Flemish half of the country.

The Commission announced in October that would investigate the merger, to assess whether it would harm effective competition, with an initial deadline of February 18.

The deal will combine BASE, Belgium’s third largest mobile operator by revenue and its second largest by number of subscribers, with Telenet, which controls the country’s largest MVNO via Mobistar’s network. The Commission expressed concern that the acquisition could reduce competition in the retail mobile telephony market by reducing the number of players to three, and that it would reduce BASE’s incentives to offer virtual operators access to its network.