Vodafone has told Bloomberg that its proposed US$20.6 billion (€18.4 billion) takeover of Liberty Global’s cable assets in Germany and Eastern Europe is still on track for completion in mid-2019, despite regulatory scrutiny of the deal. The update followed news that the European Commission has sent both companies a statement of objections setting out why the deal could harm competition, particularly in Germany.
Vodafone said it would review the objections “and continue a constructive dialogue” with the European Commission. A preliminary deadline for an EC decision on the deal has been set for June 3, 2019, though this could be extended.
The main focus of concern seems to be the impact on the German market of merging Liberty Global’s Unitymedia with Vodafone’s existing cable and mobile business. Vodafone sees the deal as necessary to compete with Deutsche Telekom, but various German TV industry trade bodies have joined forces to warn that the proposed takeover would create a monopoly in Germany’s cable market. Vodafone could address these concerns by agreeing to some kind of limited divestment.
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