• Liberty Global’s cable assets to be taken over by Vodafone 
  • European Commission greenlit take over 
  • Vodafone scoops up almost a third of Liberty Global assets 

MWC Mike Fries Liberty Global GSMA

Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries: EU recognises “important transaction” 

Vodafone has won conditional approval from the European Commission (EC) for its multi-billion bid to take over Liberty Global’s cable assets in Germany and Eastern Europe. 

The transaction, announced 9 May 2018, has a total enterprise value of approximately €19 billion, with all regulatory conditions having now been met in alignment with the original terms of the deal.

It is now expected to close by 31 July, granting Vodafone permission to purchase Liberty Global’s operations in Germany, Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic. 

Liberty Global chief executive Mike Fries said: “We’re pleased that the European Commission has recognised the considerable benefits that this important transaction brings to millions of consumers across Germany, Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic.

”And it is good news for our employees in each market who will become part of a fixed-mobile national challenger with the strength and scale to take on national telco incumbents.”

According to the firm’s statement, after completion of the transaction, Liberty Global will continue to be one of the world’s leading converged video, broadband and communications companies, with consolidated operations in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland, Poland and Slovakia.

Together, these country operations reach 25 million homes, account for 25 million video, broadband and fixed-line telephony subscribers and six million mobile services.

In addition to a significant cash balance as a result of the proceeds, Liberty Global also owns 50% of VodafoneZiggo, a joint venture in the Netherlands with 4 million customers subscribing to 10 million fixed-line and 5 million mobile services.

As of 31 March 31 2019, Liberty Global is the world’s largest international TV and broadband company, with operations in 10 European countries under the consumer brands Virgin Media, Unitymedia, Telenet and UPC.

Bloomberg reported that Vodafone assuaged EU concerns by offering to give smaller rival Telefonica SA access to its entire German cable network and providing assurances to German broadcasters worried about its power, the EC said in an emailed statement on Thursday. Telefonica will be able to “compete more effectively” for broadband internet in the country, it added.

The deal sees Vodafone scoop up almost a third of Liberty Global and helps it bundle internet, phone and TV services in Germany, its biggest market, in a challenge to former monopoly Deutsche Telekom AG.

Regulators said last year they were concerned that merging Vodafone with Liberty’s Unitymedia cable internet business would reduce the number of providers and eliminate competition. 

Read more Interview: Enrique Rodriguez, Liberty Global