Brussels has given Vodafone the green light for its $22bn (£19bn) takeover of parts of Liberty Global’s cable networks, clearing the way for the most valuable European telecoms merger in more than a decade.
The European Commission cleared the takeover of Liberty’s German and eastern European cable networks on Thursday after Vodafone offered concessions to ease competition concerns.
Europe’s largest telecoms deal in more than a decade, known by the companies as Project Scorpio, cements Vodafone’s status as Europe’s largest mobile and broadband player. It also strengthens the UK company’s hand as the natural challenger to local incumbents across the region, including BT, Deutsche Telekom and Telefónica.
“This is a significant step towards enabling truly digital societies for our customers,” said Nick Read, Vodafone’s chief executive.
Vodafone this year cut its dividend for the first time in its history and is under pressure to justify the blockbuster deal. The stock, which ticked up 1 per cent following the deal’s approval, has lost almost 50 per cent since the start of 2018.
“In our modern society, access to affordable and good quality broadband and TV services is almost as asked for as running water,” Ms Vestager said on Thursday. “We have today approved Vodafone’s purchase of Liberty’s business in [the Czech Republic], Germany, Hungary and Romania subject to remedies designed to ensure that customers will continue enjoying fair prices, high-quality services and innovative products.”