Deutsche Telekom and German industry groups slated the European Commission’s approval of Vodafone Group’s €18.4 billion acquisition of Liberty Global’s cable assets in central and eastern Europe, with the operator considering the case for a judicial review.
Since Vodafone’s proposal was submitted to authorities in 2018, Deutsche Telekom has regularly called on regulators to block it and been extremely critical of its potential impact.
In a statement following the European Commission’s approval, Deutsche Telekom said the deal would have a negative impact on competition and the country’s fibre broadband rollout.
“We’re used to competition. But we were not alone in our concerns about the merger. Nearly the entire industry reported to the European Commission that the merger would not support the optical fibre rollout in Germany – which is difficult enough as it is – but, in fact, will complicate it further.”
“We are convinced that the conditions demanded are not sufficient to prevent a negative impact on media and programme variety”.
Industry groups were also quick to criticise the failure to add further conditions to the deal, aside from an agreement already struck by Vodafone to provide wholesale cable access to Telefonica Deutschland.
Cable operator association FRK called the approval a “bureaucratic joke” stating consumers and businesses in the country would pay a high price for “Brussels’ ignorance of the German market conditions.”
The organisation, which had welcomed Vodafone’s proposed deal in 2018, pointed to weakening of competition and impact on companies supplying infrastructure and media services to residential properties.
Breko, Germany’s Broadband Association, agreed the deal would lead to a “significant restriction in competition”.
Fibre industry group Buglas added: “The merger leads to a copper duopoly of Telekom and Vodafone at the national level [and given] most of the fibre optic expansion is done by regional companies, the merger is a bad sign for consumers and business in Germany.”Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back