Thursday 20 May 2021 7:34 am

£31bn Virgin Media and O2 merger given final green light by UK competition watchdog

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has given its final approval the merger of telecoms giants Virgin Media and O2, which will value the combined company at £31bn.

The 50:50 joint venture between Liberty Global and Telefonica to combine home broadband and content provider Virgin Media and mobile phone network O2 and take in £11bn in revenue.

The deal was announced in May last year. The watchdog had raised concerns that following the merger the combined company could raise prices or reduce the quality of these services or block access altogether.

However, the CMA last month said its inquiry had provisionally concluded that the deal was unlikely to lead to a substantial lessening of competition because of the presence of other players in the market offering rival services, such as BT and Vodafone, which would maintain competition.

Today the £31bn got final approval.

“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,” said panel inquiry chair Martin Coleman from the Competition and Markets Authority

The approval was welcomed by the top bosses of the respective telecoms giants.

Mike Fries, chief executive of Liberty Global, and José Maria Alvarez-Pallete, CEO of Telefonica, commented: “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. We thank the CMA for conducting a thorough and efficient review.