The British-based Vodafone Group has agreed to buy US cable operator Liberty Global’s operations in four European countries, including the Czech Republic. The deal, which is likely to bring a significant change to the Czech Internet market, is valued at 18.4 billion euros.
Under the agreement, Vodafone will acquire Unitymedia in Germany, as well as UPC Czech, UPC Hungary and UPC Romania. The deal will help it become the leading next-generation network owner in Europe, the company told Reuters, with a total reach of 110 million homes and businesses.
Following the deal, Vodafone Group will become the leading telecommunications company in Europe, leaving in its wake the previous biggest player, Deutsche Telecom.
The transaction still needs to get the European Commission’s regulatory approval and it is likely to be challenged by Deutsche Telecom on the grounds that it curbs competition.
According to the head of the Czech branch of Vodafone, Petr Dvořák, the approval process is expected to take from one to six months.
The Czech branch of Vodafone is primarily active in mobile markets, while UPC mainly provides cable broadband and television services. At the moment, UPC provides internet and cable tv for over 600,000 people in the Czech Republic.
With nearly four million customers, Vodafone is currently the smallest of the three main mobile operators in the Czech Republic, behind T-Mobile and O2.
However, the acquisition of UPC, which will enable its customers to access mobile, broadband and TV services in one package, is likely to dramatically change the situation on the Czech market by boosting Vodafone’s potential offer.