The European Commission (EC) is set to delve deeper into Vodafone Group’s attempt to acquire Liberty Global’s cable assets across a number of markets, Reuters reported, a move which scuppers a bid by German authorities to take control of the process.
Ahead of the EC’s 11 December deadline to publish initial findings, the news website’s sources said the commission will widen its investigation, a move in-line with most M&A cases embarked on in the communications sector.
The move to a second phase does not necessarily mean the EC will conclude the deal raises any issues or requires any concessions to gain approval.
While the fact the EC is moving to stage two is unsurprising, it effectively dashes a request from German competition authority the Bundeskartellamt to refer the part of the deal concerning the country to it.
In early November, the German body said it was a “very suitable case” for referral as it “could lead to considerable changes in the market conditions in the cable TV and telecommunications sector”.
Although Vodafone’s €18.4 billion attempt to buy Liberty Global’s assets also covers the latter’s operations in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania, it is the German part of the deal which has caused the greatest controversy.
Rival Deutsche Telekom has been extremely critical of the deal even before it was confirmed and called on German regulators to assess the case. In October, Telefonica Germany CEO Markus Haas urged regulators to block the deal.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back