May 8, 2014 / 2:40 PM / 4 years ago

EU opens lengthy review of Liberty, Ziggo deal

BRUSSELS, May 8 (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Thursday it had opened an in-depth investigation set to last more than four months into U.S. cable services group Liberty Global’s planned purchase of Dutch peer Ziggo

The Commission said in a statement it had concerns that the deal might reduce competition in a number of pay TV and telecoms markets in the Netherlands. The merger would bring together the country’s only two suppliers of premium pay TV movie channels, the Commission said.

The Commission has 90 working days, until Sept 18, to take a decision.

Liberty Global, controlled by billionaire John Malone, is seeking to extend its cable empire in Europe, where there is demand for faster Internet and digital television. Its bid values Ziggo and its debt at around 10 billion euros ($13.9 billion).

Liberty has been driving consolidation of the European cable market to profit from rising demand for faster Internet and digital television.

The company, which gets over 90 percent of its revenue in Europe, has built its position via acquisitions from Ireland to Romania over the past decade and already owns 28.5 percent of Ziggo as well as the whole of Dutch peer UPC.

Combined with UPC, Liberty will reach 7 million people or about 90 percent of Dutch homes, and challenge former state monopoly KPN in mobile and for business customers. ($1 = 0.7183 Euros) (Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop)

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