November 7, 2018 / 8:39 AM / 7 days ago

German broadband group urges EU to block Vodafone-Liberty deal

The headquarters of Vodafone Germany are pictured in Duesseldorf September 12, 2013. A hacker has gained access to one of Vodafone Germany's servers and has stolen the personal data of about 2 million customers, the company said on Thursday. The hacker had access to customers' names, addresses and bank account numbers, the group said, adding the person did not get any passwords, security numbers or connection data. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender (GERMANY - Tags: BUSINESS TELECOMS LOGO CRIME LAW TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A business group representing German broadband providers called on European Union regulators to block the takeover by Vodafone (VOD.L) of Liberty Global’s (LBTYA.O) German operations, saying it would hurt competition.

Britain’s Vodafone agreed in May to pay $21.8 billion for Liberty Global’s assets in Europe, with the main prize being Germany’s Unitymedia. The European Commission is reviewing the deal and is expected to rule on it by Nov. 27.

The BREKO business group said the deal would create a duopoly between Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE), delay the work on building a nationwide fibre-optic network and blunt competition in the cable TV market.

“The EU Commission must block the planned takeover, because mergers that hinder effective competition aren’t compatible with the law,” BREKO chief Stephan Albers said in a statement. The group counts 320 companies, many of them city or regional players, with joint turnover of 7.9 billion euros ($9.1 billion).

Telefonica Deutschland (O2Dn.DE), the No.3 telecoms provider by revenue, has also called for the deal to be blocked, saying it would lead to the “quasi-monopolisation” of the German cable TV market.

($1 = 0.8721 euros)

Reporting by Douglas Busvine, editing by Louise Heavens

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