European Union (EU) authorities are set to approve Liberty Global's €1.325 billion ($1.44 billion) takeover of KPN mobile subsidiary BASE, according to a Reuters report that cites two sources familiar with the matter.
That would entail selling BASE's JIM Mobile brand and its 50% stake in Mobile Viking, another mobile brand, to a Belgian player called Medialaan, which would become an MVNO on the BASE network.
Liberty Global, which operates cable networks in a number of European markets, announced plans to acquire BASE in April last year. (See Telenet Buys KPN's BASE in $1.4B Deal.)
By merging BASE with its Telenet fixed-line business, Liberty Global would be able to create a stronger rival to incumbent operator Proximus (formerly Belgacom) amid growing interest in quad-play deals, which bundle fixed voice, broadband, mobile and TV services in a single package.
Liberty Global currently provides mobile services through an MVNO arrangement with Orange (NYSE: FTE), Belgium's second-biggest mobile operator, but said it was eager to secure "long-term mobile access conditions" when announcing the BASE deal back in April.
The company is under pressure to beef up its mobile operations in several European markets where rivals are heavily promoting quad-play deals.
Last year it held talks about exchanging assets with UK-based Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), which has been acquiring fixed-line networks in its own integrated-services move.
Those eventually proved fruitless, although Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao has hinted the door remains open to future negotiations with Liberty Global. (See Vodafone Rules Out Emerging-Markets Spin-Off, Vodafone in Asset-Swap Talks With Liberty and Liberty Global Keen on Vodafone Tie-Up – Report.)
EU authorities recently blocked a mobile merger in Denmark, which would have led to a reduction in the number of competitors, but may feel more comfortable with the deal between Liberty Global and KPN, which simply unites a fixed-line player and a mobile one.
Having already sold its E-Plus Service GmbH & Co. KG subsidiary in Germany, KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN) will be left with no major telecom interests outside its domestic market following the BASE sale.
— Iain Morris, , News Editor, Light Reading