​Vodafone passes up chance to defend Liberty deal at EU hearing

11 April 2019 12:33 by Nicholas Hirst

Vodafone has passed up an opportunity to defend its four-country Liberty Global acquisition at a closed-door hearing in Brussels, MLex has learned.

The European Commission served Vodafone with an official charge sheet against the deal last month, raising concerns about how the merger would affect competition in two German markets — broadband and broadcasting.

Dealmakers seeking EU competition approval have a right, but not an obligation, to present a defense during a private hearing before senior EU officials and deal opponents at the commission.

Resistance to the deal in Germany has been fierce, and a hearing would have seen Vodafone and Liberty Global defending their deal against a slew of companies in the country’s telecom and broadcasting industries.

Rivals, suppliers and customers have been studying a non-confidential version of the charges and have marshaled their arguments against Vodafone’s purchase of Liberty Global’s cable businesses in Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania for 18.4 billion euros ($20.7 billion).

Companies often forgo a hearing when their focus is not on persuading the commission to drop its charges, but instead on hammering out a package of concessions that would address the EU regulator's concerns.

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