Brussels set to OK Vodafone, Liberty Global merger

European Commission due to rule on Netherlands merger later this week, positive outcome looking likely. The European Commission is on the verge of approving Vodafone and Liberty Global’s plans to merge their operations in the Netherlands, it emerged late last week.

Having submitted minor concessions to the Commission’s competition body in July, the companies will get the green light shortly, Reuters reported, citing two unnamed sources familiar with the situation. It did not provide further details.

Vodafone and Liberty Global offered certain commitments to the Commission three weeks ago, but did not share the content. The Commission acknowledged their submission and extended its deadline to issue a ruling in the case to 3 August, or Wednesday this week.

The two operators agreed to combine their Dutch businesses via a 50:50 joint venture in February.

Presuming they get the go-ahead from the Commission, the move will bring together the Netherlands’ second largest mobile operator in Vodafone and its biggest cableco, Liberty Global’s Ziggo.

The merger marks a continuation of the multi-play trend across Europe and further afield. The merged entity will have a full service portfolio, making it better able to compete with Dutch incumbent KPN.

The companies themselves are clearly confident of a positive ruling from the Commission.

They recently announced that Vodafone insider Jeroen Hoencamp will serve as CEO of the joint venture, while Ziggo chief executive Baptiest Coopmans will move upstairs once the transaction closes. Ziggo’s finance chief Ritchy Drost will become CFO of the merged company.

Hoencamp, who is currently chief executive of Vodafone UK, is set to join Vodafone Netherlands as CEO on 1 September and will take control of the JV on completion of the deal.

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