Vodafone may be close to fulfilling plans of taking over Liberty Global’s cable assets in Germany and parts of Eastern Europe, according to the Financial Times.
If the deal happens, the transaction could be worth up to EUR 16.5 billion including debt, according to the report – the largest European telecoms deal in almost five years.
While the US telecoms market is dominated by four companies and China’s by just three, the European industry is fragmented and has more than 100 local players, and executives, investors and authorities have been dreaming of forging a telecoms champion in Europe for decades, but so far the idea has been unsuccessful. As a result, European carriers have a hard time justifying the massive investments in 5G networks, while US and Chinese companies are racing ahead.
On the Romanian market, Liberty Global owns UPC Romania, the second largest cable operator. In 2017, UPC Romania increased its number of customers by 4% to 1,345 million, and revenue grew by 6,5% to RON 734,4 million.
However, Deutsche Telekom, 32 percent owned by the German state, also has ambitions of becoming the largest player in Europe and is insisting that regulators should stop the deal between Vodafone and Liberty Global due to the fact that it does not follow competition principles. The CEOs of Telekom and Vodafone had a public disagreement over the matter, with Vittorio Colao, Vodafone CEO, saying that it is strange for the head of the largest telecoms company in Europe to complain about competition, when Telekom is itself a giant.