Thu, May 10, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Vodafone to purchase Liberty Global’s European assets


British telecom giant Vodafone Group PLC yesterday announced an 18.4 billion euro (US$21.8 billion) deal to buy parts of Liberty Global’s operations that would make it Europe’s largest cable and broadband operator.

The deal for assets of the US group would see Vodafone become the second-biggest player in eurozone powerhouse Germany, while it would also acquire operations in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania, it said in a statement.

Vodafone — already the world’s second-biggest mobile phone operator by subscribers after China Mobile Ltd (中國移動) — is now to become the leading next-generation network owner in Europe with a reach of 110 million homes and businesses, it added.

“This transaction will create the first truly converged pan-European champion of competition,” Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao said.

“We are committed to accelerating and deepening investment in next-generation mobile and fixed networks, building on Vodafone’s track record of ensuring that customers benefit from the choice of a strong and sustainable challenger to dominant incumbent operators,” he added.

Following the deal, London-listed Vodafone would be serving the largest number of mobile customers and households across the EU.

The acquisition of Unitymedia in Germany would create a “national challenger,” Vodafone said, throwing the gauntlet down to dominant player Deutsche Telekom AG.

“The combination of Vodafone and Unitymedia’s nonoverlapping regional operations will establish a strong second national provider of digital infrastructure in the German market,” the British telecom added.

The deal, which remains subject to regulatory approvals, is expected to close in the middle of next year.

Liberty Global said in a separate statement that the deal would boost returns for its shareholders and allow it to prioritize growth elsewhere.

The sale would inject competition into the European sector, helping to drive technology, Liberty Global CEO Matt Fries said.

“Now, more than ever, Europe needs strong competition from scaled national challengers willing and able to invest in next-generation wireless, video and broadband services,” he said.

Colorado-based Liberty Global — which purchased Britain-based Virgin Media Ltd in 2013 for 17.2 billion euros — is controlled by US tycoon John Malone.

After the deal’s completion, Liberty is to maintain a European presence in Belgium, Britain, Ireland, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland.

Liberty and Vodafone also operate a joint venture, Vodafone Ziggo, in the Netherlands.

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