Vodafone recently won the approval of Kabel Deutschland’s shareholders for its takeover bid, and now it has scored a regulatory thumbs-up from the European Commission as well.
The Commission’s antitrust division said on Friday that the two companies’ activities were mostly complementary – while Vodafone is a broadband player in Germany, its main focus is on mobile, and Kabel may be a small-time mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) but its focus is on providing cable broadband and IPTV services.
Once Vodafone has bought Kabel, the combined operation will be able to offer more attractive home-phone/mobile/broadband/IPTV bundles. The Commission said this would actually benefit competition in the market, presumably because it would allow Vodafone to take on the German multi-play leader, Deutsche Telekom, more effectively.
A Vodafone spokesman told me the only remaining stage before the transaction can go ahead will be the Kabel AGM, which will take place on 10 October. That’s a formality though, as enough shareholders have already given their approval to the deal.
The $10.3 billion transaction should therefore close on 14 October, shaking up the German market and probably presaging a wider Vodafone campaign to buy up broadband and cable players in the European markets where its mobile operations are strongest. With $130 billion soon to be in the bank from the sale of its Verizon Wireless stake to Verizon, Vodafone should be able to aim high in this drive.