EU regulator approves Vodafone- Kabel Deutschland merger

The European Commission (EC) yesterday approved Vodafone Group's $10.4- billion acquisition of  German cable operator Kabel Deutschland Holding AG (KD).

"The commission's investigation confirmed that the activities of the merging parties were mainly complementary," the Brussels-based antitrust watchdog said. "The commission found that in markets where the parties' activities overlap, the increase in market share resulting from the proposed transaction is insignificant and will therefore not appreciably alter competition."

While Kabel Deutschland primarily offers cable TV, fixed line telephony and internet access services, Vodafone's main business consists of mobile telephony services, the EC said in the statement.

 Vodafone, the world's second-largest telecoms operator, announced in June that it would buy Germany's largest cable company KD for €87 a share.

Buying KD would give Vodafone 8.5 million connected households and add fixed-line services to its mobile offerings.

KD offers digital, high definition and analog TV, Pay TV and DVR services, Video on Demand, broadband and fixed-line phone services via cable as well as mobile services.

The publicly-listed company operates cable networks in 13 German federal states and supplies its services to approximately 8.5 million households.

The company has approximately 3,500 employees and annual turnover of €1.7 billion.

Vodafone, which this month agreed to sell its 50 per cent stake in US operator Verizon Wireless for $130 billion, emerged as a market leader in mobile in Germany following its huge £112 billion merger with Mannessmann in 2000.

The KD deal would see Vodafone having an edge over its rivals Liberty Global's Unity Media and Deutsche Telekom.

Earlier this week Vodafone said that it had secured 76.48 per cent of KD shares, above the 75 per cent minimum acceptance condition it had set.

The deal is now expected to close next month.