EC gives thumbs up to Vodafone/Virgin tie up in Netherlands

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European Commissioner for Cometition Margrethe Vestager

50:50 JV will be led by former Vodafone UK CEO Jeroen Hoencamp

The European Commission has given conditional approval to the proposed Dutch joint venture between Vodafone and Virgin Media-owner Liberty Global.

The proposed merger will bring together Liberty’s Ziggo broadband operation with Vodafone’s mobile assets to create a company with more than 15 million “revenue generating units”, including set top boxes, mobile connections, broadband and fixed line customers.

Approval for the deal, which was first announced in February, is conditional on Vodafone selling up its Dutch fixed line business, the Commission said in a statement.

Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said: “The telecoms market is of strategic importance for our digital society. I am pleased that we have been able to approve the creation of the joint venture between Vodafone and Liberty Global in the Netherlands. The commitments offered by Vodafone ensure that Dutch consumers will continue to enjoy competitive prices and good choice.”

Heading Hoen

The joint venture is set to be led by former Vodafone UK boss Jeroen Hoencamp, who will officially step down from his role in September.

In a joint statement, the two telecoms giants welcomed the Commission’s decision, saying they would now seek a buyer for Vodafone’s consumer broadband business, which has more than 120,000 customers.

“The commitments entail a divestment of Vodafone Netherlands’ consumer fixed business, prior to closing of the proposed merger of the two companies’ Dutch operations,” the statement read. “This represents a structural remedy offered by the parties to address any concerns regarding the overlap between the fixed telecoms and TV activities of Vodafone and Ziggo in the Netherlands.

“Having already received a number of expressions of interest, the parties will now proceed with the sale process.”

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