Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of UK cable operator Virgin Media by Liberty Global of the US

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The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of UK cable operator Virgin Media Inc., registered in the US, by the US-based company Liberty Global, Inc. The transaction, with a value of €17.2 billion, would bring together the second largest Pay TV operator in the UK (Virgin Media) and the largest cable operator in Europe (Liberty Global). The Commission’s investigation confirmed that the transaction would not raise competition concerns, in particular because the parties operate cable networks in different Member States and because of the merged entity’s limited market position in the wholesale of TV channels in the UK and Ireland.

Both Liberty Global and Virgin Media acquire audio visual content, such as individual TV programmes and entire TV channels, which they then offer to their subscribers. The Commission examined, in particular, the market for the acquisition of TV content in the UK, Ireland and the European Economic Area (EEA) as a whole. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not restrict competition in these markets because TV content is licensed mainly on a national basis or for linguistically homogeneous areas and because the merged entity would still face sufficient competitive constraint from other players, such as TV content providers and competing Pay TV retailers. Here to read more.

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