Britain clears Virgin Media, Telefonica’s mobile network O2 merger

Britain’s competition regulator cleared a US$44 billion merger between broadband company Virgin Media and Telefonica’s UK mobile network O2 on Thursday, after a months-long review, Reuters reports.

Virgin owner Liberty Global and Spain’s Telefonica agreed the merger a year ago, creating a powerhouse in broadband and mobile to take on market leader BT.

“After looking closely at the deal, we are reassured that competition amongst mobile communications providers will remain strong and it is therefore unlikely that the merger would lead to higher prices or lower quality services,” Martin Coleman of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said.

The companies said the deal, which values O2 at £12.7 billion and Virgin Media at £18.7 billion to give the new group a combined value of £31.4 billion (US$44.4 billion) including debt, is expected to close by June 1.

“This is a watershed moment in the history of telecommunications in the UK as we are now cleared to bring real choice where it hasn’t existed before, while investing in fibre and 5G that the UK needs to thrive,” Liberty Global CEO Mike

Fries and his Telefonica counterpart Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete said in a joint statement following the CMA approval.

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