‘Telenet loses a third of customers due to undo takeover’ update

An advice from the auditor of the Council of State is that a takeover of Telenet from 2008 must be reversed. The Council of State generally follows the auditor’s advice. It will take years before that ruling would have any consequences, claims Telenet.

In 2008, Telenet took over 800,000 customers from Interkabel, when it paid 427 million euros for that company. Belgacom previously objected to the takeover and offered 420 million euros. The acquisition with Telenet came about after the two got into legal problems about watching TV on demand and via PCs. The central question was who was allowed to operate it. Telenet considered itself entitled to do so as a telephony provider, because, just like calling, it concerns ‘point-to-point communication’, while Interkabel considered it part of its duties as network manager and entitled party for ‘broadcast’.

The deal with Telenet was partly intended to resolve this dispute. Telenet took over the customers and activities in the field of television. That is why other companies were not allowed to make an offer at first. The Council of State, which deals with this case, has asked the European Court of Justice for advice. It ruled that the takeover should not have taken place.

The auditor of the Council of State is now also convinced that the takeover must be reversed, weekly magazine Trends writes on the basis of various sources.

It is unclear what will happen if the Council of State annuls the takeover. There will probably be a public auction of Interkabel, on which both Telenet and other companies can bid. Telenet has a total of around 2.5 million customers and would therefore lose many customers if the Council of State reverses the takeover.

Update 16:06: Telenet claims that a ruling by the Council of State will not have immediate consequences. “Belgacom will then have to start a separate procedure. Such a procedure can last until 2017.” Moreover, Telenet does not think it will lose its customers. “Belgacom will have to demonstrate that they are suffering damage, because we have taken over those customers. Belgacom now offers TV in the Interkabel area and according to the signals we have, that is going quite well. Proving that damage will therefore be difficult,” says the cable operator.