WATCH VIDEO. Following an in-depth investigation, the European Commission has cleared Liberty Global’s acquisition of a stake in the Belgian media company De Vijver.
After this approval, the formal finalisation of the transaction can take place within a few days.
In June 2014, it was announced that Liberty Global’s Telenet wanted to take a participation of 50 % in De Vijver Media via an acquisition of Sanoma’s share for EUR26 million and an additional cash investment in the company of EUR32 million. After the transaction, through their company W&W, Wouter Vandenhaute, CEO of De Vijver Media, and his business partner Erik Watté will keep 25 % of the shares of De Vijver Media. Corelio will keep the remaining 25 % of the shares in De Vijver Media.
The decision is subject to commitments. The Commission had concerns that, after the transaction, De Vijver would refuse to license its channels to TV distributors that compete with Telenet, a cable company controlled by Liberty Global. The commitments address these concerns by obliging De Vijver to license its channels – Vier, Vijf and any other similar channel it may launch – to TV distributors in Belgium under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.
John Porter, Telenet CEO: “We worked constructively with the European Commission during the investigation and had the greatest confidence that the deal would be approved. The main thing is that Flemish viewers will now be able to reap the benefits of this important collaboration in the Flemish media landscape. In future, they will also be able to continue enjoying the many Flemish quality programmes that VIER and VIJF put out. With this collaboration, just as with other initiatives of ours like STAP and Play, we aim to continue enriching our customers’ viewing experience and supporting local audiovisual content.”
Wouter Vandenhaute, CEO De Vijver Media: “Over the past three years, De Vijver Media has spurred a dynamic change in the Flemish television landscape. With the arrival of Telenet, we are able to continue developing the creative story of VIER, VIJF and Woestijnvis on a stable footing. Over the coming years, Telenet will also help us to respond correctly to rapidly changing viewing habits.”
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, commented: “It is important that consumers can choose among TV distributors competing on equal and fair basis. The commitments will ensure this since Telenet’s competitors will be able to distribute Vier and Vijf and offer these channels to their customers.”
In a video Telenet CEO John Porter and De Vijver Media CEO Wouter Vandenhaute announced the deal (in Dutch) inn the format of De Slimste Mens, one of the production company’s most successful shows.