EU approves SAP, Vodafone acquisitions

The European Commission has approved SAP's merger with Business Objects and Vodafone's plan to buy part of Tele2.

The European Commission has signed off on two big technology mergers, approving SAP's acquisition of Business Objects and Vodafone's purchase of the Spanish and Italian subsidiaries of the Swedish telecom group Tele2.

The Commission said it approved SAP's takeover of the BI (business intelligence) software vendor Business Objects after concluding that the combined entity would not unfairly dominate the market.

"The combined SAP/Business Object entity would continue to face several strong competitors and customers would find sufficient alternative suppliers of such software products," the Commission said.

SAP sells primarily middleware and ERP applications, and has just started getting into the BI market, while Business Objects is known for its business analytics software.

The Commission said its investigation found no significant risk that the merged entity would be able to close off competitors from the market, since SAP's middleware product, Netweaver, is an "open" platform that can work with BI products from multiple vendors.

The Commission also gave the green light to Vodafone's expansion plans for the Spanish and Italian broadband Internet access markets, by approving its planned US$1.1 billion acquisition of the Spanish and Italian subsidiaries of Tele2.

"The combined entity's share would be below 10 percent in those markets and the incremental increase in the share of Vodafone would be small," the Commission said.

In Italy and Spain, Vodafone is mainly active as a provider of mobile communications services and is the second largest mobile operator in both countries. Tele2 Italy and Tele2 Spain offer fixed-line telephony services and Internet access, including broadband.

"The parties' activities only overlap in the retail market for fixed broadband internet access and in the retail market for telephony services at a fixed location, both in Italy and in Spain," the Commission concluded.

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