Liberty Global Wins Conditional EU Approval to Buy KPN's BASE

  • EU says conditions let Medialaan enter Belgium as a new MVNO
  • EU dismisses complaints that Liberty Global could block rivals

Liberty Global Plc won European Union approval to take over Royal KPN NV’s Belgian mobile-phone business after it pledged to help Medialaan NV enter the Belgian market as a new mobile virtual network operator.

Liberty Global, which controls Belgian cable operator Telenet, will sell BASE’s share in Mobile Vikings, an MVNO, and transfer customers of its JIM Mobile brand, another MVNO, to Medialaan. The offer was flagged by the company in November.

"The remedies adequately address" European Commission concerns "since they ensure that a new mobile virtual network operator will enter the retail mobile market, to compensate for the loss of competition resulting from the exit of Telenet," the EU regulator said in an e-mailed statement.

The EU is concerned that consolidation in the telecommunications industry may lead to less choice for customers and higher prices. It is also examining CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd.’s bid to expand its U.K. mobile-phone network.

Regulators dismissed concerns that Liberty Global would be able to exclude rivals on the Belgian market by bundling fixed and mobile services in packages or offer worse wholesale terms to other MVNOs.

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