European watchdog set to rule on proposed Three-O2 merger in next two weeks
The European Commission is expected to make a decision in the next fortnight on whether to block the merger of mobile networks O2 and Three.
There are concerns that Telefonica’s sale of O2 to Hutchison Whampoain Hong Kong would impact competition, reducing the number of mobile operators in the UK from four to three if Hutchison went ahead with plans to merge Three with O2.
Hutchison, controlled by Asia’s richest man Li Ka-shing, wants to buy O2 from Spain’sTelefonica for £10.25bn. The potential merger is the latest in a raft of telecoms industry deals as firms try to minimise costs as revenues dwindle.
European Union antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager has taken a tough stance on competition, taking on Google for its dominance in the internet search market and its Android mobile phone platform.
Vestager’s predecessor, Joaquin Almunia, waved through a series of so-called four-to-three operator deals across Europe. The EC confirmed it was working towards a deadline of 19 May for the ruling.