The cable sector in Europe is seeing a flurry of mergers that are reshaping the market. The most recent, announced in late February, is the bid by market leader Liberty Global of the United States to buy Virgin Media of the UK. The transaction, estimated at nearly 19 billion, has been notified to the European Commission, which plans to hand down a decision by 15 April. These mergers aim to strengthen multi-product offers that include fixed and/or mobile phone, internet and TV. This is especially the case on the British market. Another recent example is the 229 million bid by BSkyB on O2, the UK broadband business of Spain's incumbent operator, Telefonica. If approved by competition authorities, this deal will give BSkyB another 500,000 connections, bringing it to 4.6 million subscribers and putting it ahead of Virgin Media (4.4 million). Telefonica has nevertheless kept the lion's share with O2's mobile network of 23 million customers.

Mergers are also in the works - and set to be notified soon to the EU executive - on the German market, which is still highly fragmented with several regional operators. The UK's Vodafone is said to be considering a bid of some 10 billion on Kabel Deutschland, Germany's leading cable TV operator that also provides phone and internet services to more than eight million German households. This would be Vodafone's largest deal financially speaking and would also mark...

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