Telefonica Deutschland calls for regulators to block Vodafone-Liberty deal

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The head of Telefonica Deutschland called on Monday for EU regulators to block Vodafone’s planned acquisition of Liberty Global, saying it would lead to a “quasi-monopolisation” of the German cable TV market.

Britain’s Vodafone agreed in May to pay $21.8 billion to buy Liberty Global’s assets in Europe, with the main prize being Germany’s Unitymedia, but still needs regulators’ approval.

“This takeover would mean the end of competition in the cable market and in the fixed broadband network,” Telefonica CEO Markus Haas said in a statement on Monday.

“We must not allow a quasi-monopolisation of important parts of the infrastructure, which is of decisive importance for the economic future of Germany, to take place.”

Vodafone sought EU antitrust approval for the deal on Friday, according to a filing on the European Commission website.

The EU antitrust regulator set a Nov. 27 deadline for its review. It can either clear the deal with or without concessions or open a full-scale investigation if the companies fail to address its concerns.

Telefonica Deutschland, Germany’s third-largest mobile operator by revenues, called for the deal to be blocked “in the absence of appropriate and effective remedies”.

The company, controlled by Telefonica of Spain, is pursuing a mobile-first strategy that leaves it vulnerable to ‘convergent’ rivals offering mobile and fixed-line services.

Market leader Deutsche Telekom has also criticized the deal but stopped short of calling for regulators to block it.

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