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Kabel Deutschland-Tele Columbus Merger Vetoed by Germany

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Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Kabel Deutschland Holding AG’s plan to acquire Tele Columbus Group was vetoed by Germany’s antitrust regulator, which said the concessions offered weren’t enough.

The takeover would have strengthened the existing nationwide oligopoly held by Kabel Deutschland, Germany’s biggest cable company, and Unitymedia KabelBW GmbH, the Federal Cartel Office in Bonn said in an e-mailed statement today. Even with the concessions Unterfoehring-based Kabel Deutschland had offered, competition would have been gravely impaired, the office said.

“Tele Columbus is Kabel Deutschland’s most important competitor” in East Germany, Cartel Office President Andreas Mundt said in the statement. “In many areas there would be no alternative supplier left.”

The company said in May it would buy Berlin-based Tele Columbus for 603 million euros ($795 million) plus accrued interest to reach more pay-television households. Creditors took ownership of Tele Columbus after a debt restructuring.

Kabel Deutschland is itself the target of a potential bid by Vodafone Group Plc.

To contact the reporter on this story: Karin Matussek in Berlin at kmatussek@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Scinta at cscinta@bloomberg.net

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