The European Commission (EC) has approved Belgian cableco Telenet’s EUR1.33 billion (USD1.48 billion) acquisition of local mobile operator BASE Company from KPN of the Netherlands. The deal, which was first announced last April, was being studied by the EC’s competition authority as Telenet is already active in Belgium’s mobile market via an MVNO agreement. Telenet, majority owned by the Liberty Global Group, is looking to create a fully converged fixed-mobile operation which is better placed to compete with Belgium’s incumbent operator, Proximus (formerly Belgacom). Telenet recently announced that it had passed the one million subscriber mark at its MVNO operation, while it also claims second spot in the country’s broadband sector, with 1.56 million internet subscribers as of end-September 2015.
To help allay any competition concerns, Telenet had previously announced that BASE would sell off its 50% stakes in two other Belgian MVNOs, JIM Mobile and Mobile Vikings, to TV and radio group Medialaan. On announcing the EC’s clearance for the deal, competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager commented: ‘We have made sure that Liberty Global’s merger with BASE will not reverse the trend of declining mobile prices in Belgium in recent years.’
According to a KPN statement, completion of the transaction can be expected ‘in the coming days’. The deal means the Dutch telco is now active only in its domestic market and in Germany, where it holds a minority stake in mobile operator Telefonica Deutschland. KPN says it expects to generate around EUR900 million from the sale of BASE, following deductions, with 70% of this to be distributed to shareholders. BASE had 2.81 million customers at the end of 2015, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database.