Dutch former monopoly telco KPN has won an appeal against the EC decision of October 2014 which cleared the merger of the Netherlands’ then-largest two cablecos, Zesko (Ziggo) and UPC. The merged company under the Ziggo banner was subsequently consolidated by Liberty Global before forming quadruple-play joint venture VodafoneZiggo, 50%-owned by Vodafone Group, in December 2016. The Financial Times writes that VodafoneZiggo – which leads KPN in terms of broadband subscribers – must now seek clearance for the 2014 cable merger once more, after the EU General Court annulled the EC’s ruling, agreeing with KPN’s challenge on the basis that regulators had not considered the potential anti-competitive impact of the deal on the pay-TV sports market in the Netherlands. The court also ordered the EC to pay its costs.
A statement from Liberty Global presented an unworried stance, however, saying: ‘We note the EU General Court’s decision, which has no impact on the day-to-day operations of VodafoneZiggo. The Court’s ruling does not question the substance of the Commission’s decision to approve the UPC and Ziggo merger, but rather annuls it on procedural grounds. We will discuss practical steps with the European Commission over the coming weeks and we are confident of obtaining clearance in due course.’