Vodafone's acquisition of Spanish cable operator Ono raises no competition concerns, the European Commission announced on Wednesday as it gave the deal the green light.
"The parties' activities are largely complementary: Ono's main activity is related to fixed telecoms, whereas Vodafone is mainly active in mobile telecoms," the Commission said in a statement.
The merged entity will face significant competition from the likes of Telefonica, Orange and Jazztel, it added. In addition, the presence of alternative operators and regulations on wholesale access mean the firm will not be able to shut out rivals from the multi-play market.
Vodafone announced that it had agreed to pay €7.2 billion for Ono in March, continuing its push to build up fixed access to complement its core mobile business.
"Demand for unified communications products and services has increased significantly over the last few years in Spain and this transaction – together with our fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) build programme – will accelerate our ability to offer best-in-class propositions in the Spanish market," Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao said at the time.
The European Commission's approval of the deal in a sub-four-month timeframe will be well-received by France's Vivendi, which is keen to close the sale of its SFR mobile unit to Altice. The proposed combination of SFR with Altice's cable business Numericable will create a similar merged entity to Vodafone/Ono.
Indeed, the likelihood of a smoother regulatory process was a key factor behind Vivendi's decision to sell SFR to Altice rather than to rival bidder Bouygues Telecom, since a combined SFR/Bouygues entity would bring together two mobile operators and thereby raise more competition concerns.
Earlier on Wednesday the European Commission cleared Telefonica's acquisition of E-Plus in Germany, a move that also brings together two mobile network operators. As expected, that approval came with stringent remedies: Telefonica has agreed to sell up to 30% of the combined entity's spectrum. In addition, the process took almost a year.