Vodafone to buy Liberty assets for €18.4bn

Vodafone said it agreed to acquire Liberty Global’s operations in Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania for an enterprise value of €18.4 billion.

Vodafone said it agreed to acquire Unitymedia GmbH in Germany and Liberty Global’s operations — excluding its Direct Home business — in the Czech Republic (UPC Czech), Hungary (UPC Hungary), and Romania (UPC Romania).

This deal is expected to comprise €10.8 billion of cash paid to Liberty Global and €7.6 billion of existing Liberty debt, subject to completion adjustments.

However, the transaction is likely to face a serious regulatory review in Brussels.

Deutsche Telekom, Europe’s largest telecoms firm, responded by arguing that the deal will distort competition in Germany.

Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Hoettges told reporters the acquisition would create “a giant preening with its convergent technology.”

On a conference call with reporters Hoettges  said: “I personally will fight for fair competition for our customers, to ensure that we do not face a disadvantage.”

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

“It represents a step change in Europe’s transition to a Gigabit Society and a transformative combination for Vodafone that will generate significant value for shareholders.

“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.

“Vodafone will become Europe’s leading next generation network owner, serving the largest number of mobile customers and households across the EU.”