"Each particular jurisdiction has a complex national intellectual property and media / telco regulatory environment so being able to have legal specialists in these areas in addition to corporate lawyers was crucial to our client."
Partner Technology, Media & Communications CMS London
The fragmented European media and telecommunications market is undergoing significant consolidation as major players seek scale in the light of intense competition from digital operators and a need for huge network investment.
Against this backdrop, a cross-border CMS London and CEE team advised Liberty Global, the world’s largest international cable business, on the Czech, Hungarian and Romanian aspects of selling its European assets to Vodafone for EUR 18.4bn.
The transaction includes the acquisition of Liberty’s Unitymedia business in Germany, as well as its UPC brand businesses across the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania.
Subject to various regulatory approvals, the sale is due to complete by mid-2019. If approved, it will have significant ramifications for the market, resulting in Vodafone becoming the largest provider of high-speed broadband and cable services in Europe, with 54 million customers and a network that reaches 110 million homes. Liberty Global will continue to have European operations in Belgium, Ireland, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland and the UK as well as its joint venture in the Netherlands, VodafoneZiggo.
CMS London partner Chris Watson said, “Each particular jurisdiction has a complex national intellectual property and media / telco regulatory environment so being able to have legal specialists in these areas in addition to corporate lawyers was crucial to our client.”
He added, “This was a fast-moving deal and was the cleanest solution for Liberty to divest the bulk of its European assets in one transaction.”
The CMS team included lawyers in Bucharest, Budapest, London and Prague.
Under the terms of the EUR 18.4bn deal, Vodafone will pay Liberty Global EUR 10.8bn in cash and take on EUR 7.6bn of debt. Liberty’s largest market is the UK and Ireland where it became a major player after acquiring Virgin Media six years ago.