Liberty Global stays confident on Dutch Vodafone deal

Liberty Global said the UK's decision to exit the European Union (EU) should not prevent its planned joint venture with Vodafone in the Netherlands from going ahead, although the proposed merger has yet to receive approval from the European Commission (EC).

In an interview with Reuters, Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries said the deal was being reviewed by EU regulators "and their review should not be impacted by Brexit."

Vodafone and Liberty Global only recently placed the future of a planned merger of their Dutch operations in the hands of the commission, which is expected to issue the outcome of an initial review by Jul. 19.

Options available to the EC include opening a full-blown investigation into the merger proposition or approving the deal. If the EC chooses the latter option it must decide whether or not to impose conditions.

The proposed 50-50 joint venture between Vodafone Netherlands and Liberty Global's Ziggo cable broadband network would create the second largest telecoms service provider in the country behind KPN, with some 4.2 million video, 3.2 million broadband, 2.6 million fixed-line telephony, and 5.3 million mobile subscribers.

Fries also told Reuters that he was open to more opportunities in Europe and would favour takeovers rather than joint ventures. He said the "Brexit" decision had "no immediate impact on our business and it has not reduced our appetite or interest in Europe. The UK is a relatively large part of our business and in the end British consumers will still want the same products and services."

The CEO added that there are no plans to extend the cooperation with Vodafone beyond the Netherlands. He also said the company did not plan to add new countries in Europe, but did intend to expand operations in countries where it is already present, including Poland.

"We are committed to mobility and it will grow as part of our business. We're going to try to grow in mobile in Poland, too," he said.

Liberty Global operates in more than 30 countries worldwide.

For more:
- see this Reuters article

Related articles:
EC set to issue preliminary ruling on Vodafone, Liberty Global Dutch JV by mid-July
EC delays decision by 15 days on CK Hutchison's planned Italian deal
Orange executive says European MNO consolidation on ice for at least two years
Conclusr warns that Vodafone, Liberty Dutch JV will lure business customers from KPN, raise prices
Vodafone strengthens Dutch convergence play with Liberty JV