NEW YORK (The Deal) -- The European Commission on Wednesday said it would review the proposed acquisition of Ziggo by Liberty Global (LBTYA), denying a request from Dutch authorities to take over the review of a deal which values the Dutch cable company at 10 billion euros ($13.6 billion) including debt.
The Commission in May opened an in-depth review of the case, saying it was concerned Liberty would gain a near-monopoly in the Netherlands by combining the country's two major pay-TV providers.
"The Commission concluded that the Dutch competition authority was not better placed to examine the transaction because of the EC's experience in assessing many mergers in the converging media and telecommunications sectors, the presence of Liberty Global in 12 countries of the European Economic Area (EEA), and the need for a consistent application of the merger control rules," the EC said.
The EC Wednesday said it was also concerned about the impact of the deal on competition in the Flemish-speaking parts of neighboring Belgium.
Liberty, the international wing of cable financier John Malone's Englewood, Colo.-based empire, would have about 90% of the Dutch cable market should the deal proceed. Regulators are especially concerned as the line between cable providers, phone companies and sometimes even broadcasters blurs -- all now strive to provide a mix of content as well as fixed-line, wireless and Internet services.
However, many companies now argue that the blurring lines themselves mean the market should now be broadened to include all three industries rather than focusing on a single industry such as cable.