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European deals: EC approves Comcast's Sky bid, probes T-Mobile/Tele2 Dutch deal

S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a wrap-up of European media and communications deal announcements, completions and updates from June 11 to June 15.

TOP NEWS

* European Union antitrust regulators on June 15 unconditionally approved Comcast Corp.'s bid for British pay TV giant Sky PLC, concluding that "the transaction would raise no competition concerns in Europe." The European Commission said Comcast and Sky are mainly active in different markets in Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the U.K. and Spain and thus compete with each other only to a limited extent, mostly in acquiring TV content and in the wholesale supply of basic pay TV channels. The proposed transaction would combine Sky with Comcast, the largest U.S. cable operator. Sky also received a competing takeover offer from 21st Century Fox Inc., which already controls 39% of the British satellite company. In April, Comcast formalized its bid to acquire Sky for £22 billion, kicking off a takeover battle with Fox for the British pay TV giant.

* Meanwhile, the European Commission has launched an in-depth probe into T-Mobile Netherlands' proposed acquisition of Tele2 AB unit Tele2 Netherlands. The commission raised concerns that the planned merger would reduce the number of mobile network operators in the Netherlands, resulting in higher prices for mobile services as well as less choice and innovation for mobile customers. The EC also noted that the merger may weaken competition among operators, leading them to coordinate their competitive behavior. It further said mobile virtual network operators may eventually find it more difficult to secure "favorable" wholesale access from mobile operators following the transaction. The commission, which was notified of the deal May 2, has until Oct. 17 to make its decision. In December 2017, Deutsche Telekom AG struck a cash-and-stock deal that would enable T-Mobile Netherlands to acquire Tele2 Netherlands. The transaction is expected to be completed in the second half, subject to approval by relevant antitrust regulators.

M&A media

* Broadcaster Entravision Communications Corp. acquired Smadex SL, a digital advertising technology company. The acquisition was completed via Entravision's Headway business unit, the company said June 13. Based in Barcelona, Smadex is a mobile programmatic services provider and demand-side platform with proprietary technology that allows advertisers to execute performance campaigns on mobile devices.

* Microsoft Corp. acquired U.K.-based video game developer Playground Games Ltd., a development partner since 2010 that has worked on the "Forza" franchise. The U.S. tech giant also signed a letter of intent to buy Cambridge, U.K.-based game studio Ninja Theory.

M&A communications

* Sprint Corp. and Deutsche Telekom-controlled T-Mobile US Inc. will submit an application with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission on June 18 seeking approval for their proposed merger, Reuters reported June 15, citing an official document. The document, filed with the FCC on June 14, also includes a request for "a protective order that would shield sensitive corporate information" from the public. A report earlier this month indicated that the U.S. Justice Department is investigating the impact of the proposed merger on smaller wireless operators.

* Global communications company ViaSat Inc. acquired Horsebridge Defence and Security, a U.K.-based company focused on design, system integration and support of deployable secure networks. The Horsebridge Defence and Security team will be integrated into the communications provider's Farnborough, U.K.-based organization.

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