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Vodafone to pay €474 million for rest of Arcor

British mobile phone giant Vodafone said on Monday it had agreed to buy the 26.4-percent interest in German fixed-line unit Arcor it does not own from Deutsche Bahn and Deutsche Bank for €474 million ($737 million) in cash.

Vodafone to pay €474 million for rest of Arcor
Photo: DPA

Arcor is Vodafone’s biggest fixed-line service provider in Europe and will increase Vodafone’s competitiveness in the German broadband market, which is growing at nearly 30 percent per year, the British company said in a statement. Arcor has 2.6 million DSL lines in Germany, representing 14 percent market share.

“A new, economically stronger communications firm has been created with a mobile network, a fixed network, data service and broadband,” Friedrich Joussen, chief executive officer of Vodafone in Germany, said in a release.

Joussen said the company aims to increase its market share to 20 percent.

Vodafone employs some 15,000 people in Germany. Arcor alone employs about 3,700 people. The company said it does not plan to cut jobs, though some employees could be reassigned.

dpa/afp

AMAZON

Germany opens ‘anti-competition’ probe into Amazon with tougher law

Germany's competition authority said Tuesday it had opened an inquiry into online retail giant Amazon over potential "anti-competitive practices", using a new law giving regulators more power to rein in big tech companies.

Germany opens 'anti-competition' probe into Amazon with tougher law
An Amazon warehouse in Brandenburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Patrick Pleul

Federal Cartel Office head Andreas Mundt said his office is examining whether Amazon has “an almost unchallengeable position of economic power” and whether it “operates across various markets”.

If so, it would be deemed of “paramount significance”, said Mundt, adding that the regulator could “take early action against and prohibit possible anti-competitive practices by Amazon”.

“This could apply to Amazon with its online marketplaces and many other, above all digital offers,” he added.

Under the amendment to Germany’s competition law passed in January, the watchdog said it now has more power to “intervene earlier and more effectively” against big tech companies, rather than simply punishing them for abuses of their dominant market position.

READ ALSO: ‘I want to know origin of my grapes’: Amazon loses fruit and veg ruling in German court

The German reform coincided with new EU draft legislation unveiled in December aimed at curbing the power of the internet behemoths that could shake up the way Silicon Valley can operate in the 27-nation bloc.

The push to tighten legislation comes as big tech companies are facing increasing scrutiny around the globe, including in the United States, where Google and Facebook are facing antitrust suits.

The Amazon probe is only the second time that Germany’s Federal Cartel Office has made use of its new powers, after first employing them to widen the scope of an investigation into Facebook over its integration of virtual reality headsets.

The watchdog already has two traditional abuse control proceedings open against Amazon.

One involves the company’s use of algorithms to influence the pricing of third-party sellers on Amazon Marketplace, while another is probing the extent to which Amazon and major producers such as Apple exclude third parties from
selling brand products.

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