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Brussels clears Vodafone deal for Liberty Global cable ops

Brussels clears Vodafone deal for Liberty Global cable ops Vodafone

BUCHAREST (Romania), July 18 (SeeNews) - The European Commission said on Thursday it has conditionally approved the acquisition by UK-based telecom group Vodafone of the cable business of international TV and broadband company Liberty Global in the Czech republic, Germany, Hungary and Romania.

The approval is conditional on full compliance with a commitments package offered by Vodafone, the Commission said in a press release.

"We have today approved Vodafone's purchase of Liberty Global's business in Czechia, Germany, Hungary and Romania subject to remedies designed to ensure that customers will continue enjoying fair prices, high-quality services and innovative products," Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner in charge of competition policy, said.

Following its investigation, the Commission said it did not find competition concerns regarding Romania, Czechia or Hungary.

However, it did find some concerns in Germany, which Vodafone pledged to address, it said, adding that the approval is conditional upon the full compliance with the commitments.

Vodafone committed to a wholesale agreement with Telefonica Deutschland, which will give Telefonica access to the merged entity's cable network in Germany. Also, it has pledged to refrain from contractually restricting the possibility for broadcasters that are carried on the merged entity's TV platform to also distribute their content via an over-the-top service in Germany.

In March, Vodafone said it intends to raise some 4 billion euro ($4.5 billion) through two bond issues in order to finance the deal with Liberty Global.

In May 2018 Liberty Global entered into a definitive agreement to sell its operations in the four countries to Vodafone Group for 18.4 billion euro. In December, the European Commission opened an in-depth investigation to assess the deal.

In Romania, Liberty Global operates through its pan-European telecommunications UPC Europe. Founded in Cluj-Napoca as Astral Telecom S.A. in 1993, UPC Romania is now one of the country's largest providers of TV, Internet and fixed-line telephone services. UPC Europe bought Astral Telecom for $420 million in 2005.

Vodafone is primarily involved in the operation of mobile telecommunications networks and in the provision of mobile telecommunications services, such as mobile voice, messaging and data services. Within the EU, Vodafone is active in twelve member states, including Czechia, Germany, Hungary and Romania.

Liberty Global, also based in the UK, offers television, broadband internet, fixed telephony services as well as mobile services in various EU countries.

($=0.8904 euro)