EC gives greenlight to Vodafone-Liberty Global JV

ZiggoThe European Commission has cleared Vodafone and Liberty Global’s joint venture in the Netherlands on the condition that Vodafone sell its consumer fixed-line business in the country.

The EC also rejected an appeal by The Netherlands for the Dutch regulator to have the deal referred back to it.

The Commission said that the merger of Vodafone Netherlands with Liberty Global-owned cable operator Ziggo, as originally notified, would have reduced competition in the markets for fixed multiple play services and for fixed-mobile multiple play services. However, Vodafone’s offer to divest its retail consumer fixed-line business had allayed those concerns, it said.

The EC said that the sale of the fixed-line business would entirely remove the overlap between the pair’s activities.

The EC rejected the Dutch request to refer the merger to its competition watchdog on the grounds that the Commission had extensive experience in dealing with telecommunication cases and based on the need to ensure consistency in the application of merger control rules in this sector across the European Economic Area.

Vodafone and Liberty Global welcomed the move. The pair said that the sale of Vodafone’s fixed-line business had already secured expressions of interest from a number of parties.

Vodafone has about 120,000 fixed-line customers in The Netherlands, with what Vodafone and Liberty Global said was a high triple-play penetration rate. The pair said that the sale could potentially include mobile virtual network operator access subject to commercial terms.