Vodafone can breathe a sigh of relief: The EU Commission’s concerns about the takeover of large parts of Liberty Global’s cable business in Europe are apparently smaller than expected.
The warning letter (‘Statement of Objections’) in which the Brussels-based competition authority describes its objections, which still have to be cleared before approval can be granted, does not create impassable obstacles, reports German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) with reference to insiders.
The concerns mainly relate to the German cable market, where market leader Vodafone (formerly Kabel Deutschland) intends to acquire Unitymedia, the second largest player, and would then serve more than 14 million cable TV households. A contract with Vodafone would then practically be a prerequisite for any TV channel wishing to do business in Germany.
According to the report, the EU Commission has the greatest concerns about this concentration of power against TV broadcasters in the cable distribution market. The broadcasters fear rising carriage fees and are concerned that Vodafone could compete with them with its own content, for example by acquiring sports rights. These aspects will probably require the most discussions, FAZ quotes insiders.
The EU Commission’s concerns regarding the housing industry and internet access are said to be smaller than expected. A final decision is expected this summer.