Vodafone's Takeover of Parts of Liberty Global Gets EU Approval With Conditions

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The 5G logo is pictured during the launch of Vodafone UK's 5G mobile data network in London on July 3, 2019.

European wireless giant Vodafone Group has won conditional European Union approval for its takeover of Liberty Global’s cable assets in Eastern Europe and Germany.

Vodafone cited a deal value of €18.4 billion ($20.7 billion), while Liberty Global focused on the deal's enterprise value of approximately €19.0 billion ($21.5 billion) on a U.S. accounting basis.

The two companies last May unveiled the deal that will see Liberty Global sell its businesses in Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania to Vodafone, which is the world’s second-largest wireless company in terms of subscribers.    

Vodafone said on Thursday that it will become "Europe's leading converged operator, with 116.3 million mobile customers, 24.2 million broadband customers and 22.1 million TV customers across 13 European countries."

The European Commission, the antitrust enforcer of the European bloc, in December announced a full-scale probe of the deal and its impact. EU regulators warned about its possible anti-competitive effects and outlining their concerns, especially in Germany and the Czech Republic. Vodafone then made concessions and now has won conditional approval.

"With the European Commission's approval of this transaction, Vodafone transforms into Europe's largest fully-converged communications operator, accelerating innovation through our gigabit networks and bringing greater benefits to millions of customers in Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania," said Vodafone CEO Nick Read. "This is a significant step toward enabling truly digital societies for our customers."

The transaction is expected to be completed by July 31 and generate cost and capital expenditure synergies worth more than €6 billion ($6.7 billion) after integration costs, in addition to revenue synergies exceeding €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion) "from cross selling to the combined customer base, Vodafone said. "Together with the standalone growth potential of the acquired assets, these synergies support double-digit free cash flow per share accretion (before integration costs) from the third year post completion for Vodafone."

Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries said the deal would be "good news for our employees in each market who will become part of a fixed-mobile national challenger with the strength and scale to take on national telco incumbents."

A version of this story was first published by The Hollywood Reporter.


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