The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into the proposed acquisition of Belgian cablenet’s VOO and Brutélé by Orange.
The Commission has competition concerns relating to much of their standard offer; the supply of fixed internet services, audio-visual services and multiple-play bundles.
Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge for competition policy, said: “Access to affordable and high-quality Internet and TV services comes with choice. Orange has been a successful challenger to VOO/Brutele’s telecommunication services in parts of Belgium.”
Last December, Orange Belgium agreed to buy 75% less one share in VOO, which owns the cable network in the Walloon region and part of the Brussels region.
Brutélé provides retail fixed telecom services through its own cable network, which it markets together with VOO under the “VOO” brand.
Orange is the number two mobile provider in Belgium, while VOO and Brutélé together are the number two provider of fixed telecommunication services in the areas covered by their own fixed networks.
The Commission is concerned that the acquisition would reduce the number of operators from three to two in areas covered by VOO and Brutélé’s own fixed networks leading to an increase in the bargaining power of the merged entity in the market for the wholesale acquisition of TV channels.
The proposed transaction was notified to the Commission on 22 June 2022. The Commission now has 90 working days, until 6 December 2022, to take a decision. The opening of an in-depth inquiry does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.