Vodafone’s acquisition of Liberty Global cable business gets European Commission approval.

Cristina Caffarra

On 18 July 2019 the European Commission conditionally approved Vodafone’s acquisition of Liberty Global’s cable business in Czechia, Germany, Hungary and Romania.

The Commission had raised concerns about horizontal overlaps in the retail supply of fixed broadband services and wholesale supply of signal for the transmission of TV channels in Germany.

The fixed broadband overlap resulted from Vodafone’s DSL offering in Liberty Global’s subsidiary Unitymedia’s cable area by using access to Deutsche Telekom’s network. To address the concerns relating to this overlap Vodafone agreed to provide Telefonica access to the merged entity’s cable network in Germany.

In TV channel transmission the Commission was concerned that the merger would deteriorate broadcasters’ position vis-à-vis the merged entity which could hinder the broadcasters’ ability to provide additional, innovative services.  A set of behavioural remedies offered by Vodafone was found sufficient to eliminate the concerns in this area.

The Commission also considered the effects of the merger on retail TV markets in Germany; on investments in next generation networks in Germany; and on retail markets for fixed broadband, TV services and mobile communication in Czechia but concluded that the transaction did not raise competition concerns regarding these.

CRA advised Liberty Global in the merger proceedings; the team was led by Cristina Caffarra and included Uğur Akgün, Patrick Andreoli-Versbach, Dan DonathOliver Latham, Pierre Regibeau, Valter SoranaHelen Weeds and Professor Gregory S. Crawford.

For more details, please see the Commission’s press release here.