Fulfilling conditions that the European Commission (EC) attached to its approval of the Vodafone-Liberty Global (LG) joint venture in August, Vodafone agreed last Friday to sell its Dutch wireline broadband business to T-Mobile Netherlands for an undisclosed sum.   

The unit to be divested, Vodafone Thius, offers video, Internet and landline telephone services to 150,000 customers in the Netherlands.  Last February, LG agreed to combine Ziggo, its Dutch cable and broadband network unit, with Vodafone’s Dutch wireless subsidiary as part of a 50-50 joint venture that would offer an integrated suite of cable TV, broadband, fixed wireline and mobile phone services to more than 15 million customers nationwide.  As part of that agreement, which brought together the nation’s largest cable operator and second-largest mobile operator, Vodafone also committed to pay LG €1 billion (US$1.09 billion) to equalize the value of the assets.   

Concluding that Vodafone possessed the ability to exercise “a strong competitive constraint” in the Dutch market for bundled broadband and voice services, the EC approved the joint venture but conditioned its consent upon Vodafone’s commitment to divest its Dutch fixed line business to an outside buyer.  While terms of Monday’s deal were not disclosed, Martin Knauer, the acting CEO of T-Mobile Netherlands, lauded the transaction as “great news for the Dutch consumer,” pledging:  “we will continue to innovate these newly-acquired businesses in the consumer market and offer more choice.”  T-Mobile will also acquire rights to lease capacity on the Vodafone mobile network.  Contingent upon receipt of regulatory approvals from the Dutch competition authority and the EC, Vodafone and T-Mobile hope to close the deal as early as next month.