Are we about to see the collapse of a second major Polish cable deal in half year?
The signs are certainly ominous. Earlier this week the country’s Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) issued a statement saying it had moved into the second stage of its investigation into the proposed takeover of Multimedia Polska by Vectra.
Announced in August, where it to go ahead it would result in the creation of the largest cable operator in Poland in terms of subscriber numbers, overtaking the current market leader UPC Polska.
However, UOKiK, while not ruling out the possibility of approving the proposed take-over, has already voiced its concerns by identifying the fact the two operators compete in the provision of pay-TV services in 39 cities and broadband internet in 45 cities. Competition may be restricted in some instances and the second stage of its investigation will look further into this.
So, we now find ourselves in a similar situation to that at the end of last year, when UOKiK was investigating the proposed acquisition of Multimedia by UPC. The deal, first announced in October 2016 and worth around $760 million, eventually fell through in March this year when the Liberty Global company withdrew its offer. The reason? UPC could not find a way round UOKiK’s conclusion that a combined operation with Multimedia would in some cities account for up to 80% of their pay-TV and fixed-line markets.
UPC had of course been there before a few years earlier, when in acquiring Aster City it was forced to sell on some its networks to Netia.
UPC was clearly not prepared to do something similar this time round and neither may Vectra, should it be given the go-ahead to buy Multimedia.
A more detailed picture of what is currently happening in the Polish cable industry will be offered at the PIKE conference exhibition in Lodz on October 8-10. Broadband TV News will be present at and report from the event.