The European Commission (EC) approved Deutsche Telekom’s acquisition of a majority stake in Tele2’s Netherlands unit without imposing any additional conditions.

As had been widely speculated, the EC waved through the deal to merge Tele2 Netherlands and T-Mobile Netherlands, which reduces the number of mobile operators in the market to three.

The deal was first announced in December 2017, with the EC flagging potential competition issues during an initial review completed in June. After twice pushing back its deadline for a decision, the EC finally cleared the acquisition today (27 November).

Throughout the process, both companies maintained it was positive for competition in the country and would enable them to better compete with market leaders KPN and VodafoneZiggo.

No impact
EC competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager (pictured) said: “After thoroughly analysing the specific role of T-Mobile NL and the smaller Tele2 NL in the Dutch retail mobile market, our investigation found that the proposed acquisition would not significantly change the prices or quality of mobile services for Dutch consumers”.

The EC added the Dutch market was already competitive and had some of the lowest prices in the EU, alongside high network quality.

In a statement, T-Mobile Netherlands CEO Thorsten Langheim said: “This is another important milestone in the strategic development of Deutsche Telekom’s European Portfolio and more importantly our turnaround plan for T-Mobile NL. The enlarged T-Mobile is now in a strategically improved position to attack the two dominant players in the Dutch telco market and the increased scale improves our investment capabilities to sustain our network leadership, and to build out next generation 5G and fibre networks.”

The deal is expected to be completed early in 2019. Deutsche Telekom will own a 75 per cent stake in the combined entity and Tele2 the remainder.

Previously the EC has been reluctant to approve in-market consolidation without imposing conditions to open the door to a new player.

It previously blocked CK Hutchison’s move for O2 UK and forced CK Hutchison and VimpleCom (now Veon) to sell infrastructure to aid the entry of Iliad in Italy, as a condition for clearing the creation of Wind Tre.