US billionaire John Malone's company Liberty Global saw its £15bn bid to buy UK telco Virgin Media cleared by competition officials in Europe today.
The takeover was waved through completely unchallenged by the European Commission, after the cable giant confirmed it wanted to acquire Virgin Media in February.
The antitrust wing of the EC said:
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.
It found that the planned buyout would not squeeze out competition 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."
Malone's arrival in the UK telco space will pit his company against BSkyB, which is 39 per cent-owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.
The acquisition is expected to be finalised in the second quarter of this year. Virgin Media, meanwhile, will report its latest results to the City next week. ®