Liberty Global’s Belgian arm, Telenet, is buy local mobile network operator Base from Dutch group KPN for 1.3 billion euros.
For Liberty, Europe’s biggest cable firm, it’s a departure from its strategy of renting capacity from its rivals rather than buying or building its own mobile phone networks.
However, Telenet says the deal will create a much stronger operator in Belgium’s mobile market as fixed and mobile telecom services converge, with the combined company having estimated sales of 2.4 billion euros.
Telenet has been one of the winners of a 2012 law that limited the maximum duration of Belgian telecoms service contracts to six months. That led many mobile users to switch operators, causing prices to tumble.
The group, which is mainly active in the Dutch-speaking north of the country, has about 900,000 mobile subscribers, while Base has 3.3 million.
Analysts expect the merger of Telenet and Base to reduce competition in the Belgian market and create two similar sized mobile players, Telenet and Mobistar, behind market leader Proximus.