The 2016 merger between Ziggo and Vodafone would have been unthinkable 10 years ago, according to Liberty Global’s chief corporate affairs officer.
Manuel Kohnstamm told a finance session at Cable Congress in Berlin that the Dutch 50/50 joint venture, authorised by the European Commission, allowed “two very strong companies that hold each other in check”.
Between them Liberty and Vodafone now hold over 50% of European cable interests, Vodafone’s position being helped in part by the sale of a number of Liberty assets.
Kohnstamm said the Vodafone-Ziggo venture had created an “accepted structure” for any other market. Looking at the UK market where Liberty Global is expected to launch fibre deployments through a new company during the course of next year, Kohnstamm added “we see a significant opportunity”.
Kohnstamm’s stance was backed by Sir Philip Lowe the former EU Director-General for Competition, who’s now a partner in economics consultancy Oxera. Sir Philip told delegates there were opportunities in both the UK and Germany, because of their light touch regulation on fibre builds “It’s a different type of investor because they have a long term approach of anything up to a decade,” he said.
However, Belgium is lacking in interest because it remains heavily regulated.