FRANKFURT Dec 7 Plans by Germany's largest
cable company to take over the No.3 player would cement a
duopoly and crimp competition, the country's antitrust watchdog
said, putting pressure on the two companies to offer concessions
to ease those fears
Kabel Deutschland, said on Thursday Germany's
cartel office expressed concerns about its planned purchase of
smaller rival Tele Columbus.
The regulator followed up on Friday by saying the deal would
eliminate an important competitor of Kabel Deutschland and of
No.2 Unitymedia in the regions of Germany where they are the
"The takeover of Tele Columbus would aggravate the joint
dominant market position," the Cartel Office said, adding this
applied to both competition for contracts from residential
property companies and to the cable companies' purchasing power
over TV broadcasters.
The German cable market was once one of Europe's most
fragmented, with a proliferation of smaller regional players
offering television, broadband and phone services.
Following a buying spree, Liberty Global's
Unitymedia and Kabel Deutschland have emerged as the dominant
A year ago, the antitrust regulator approved the contested
merger of Unitymedia and Kabel BW after the companies
agreed to concessions.
The cartel office said on Friday the problem with a Kabel
Deutschland-Tele Columbus tie-up would be the regional overlap,
which was not the case in the Unitymedia purchase of Kabel BW.
The merger parties can now make their case again and offer
concessions, said the watchdog, which has until Jan. 16 to make
a final decision.
Kabel Deutschland agreed this year to buy Tele Columbus for
about 618 million euros ($803 million), including debt of around
Tele Columbus provides cable services to 1.7 million
customers, mainly in Berlin, Dresden, Magdeburg and Potsdam.
($1 = 0.7700 euros)
(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Mark Potter)