Hutchison's planned €1.3 billion takeover of Orange Austria could be on the verge of getting EU regulatory go-ahead following recent moves by the European Commission.
Reuters reported that the BWB, the Austrian competition regulator, said it and all the other EU national regulators had been invited to a meeting in Brussels on November 27. The calling of such a meeting is normally a signal that the European Union antitrust regulators have no further issues with the proposed deal, and approval is generally seen as a formality, Reuters said.
Nevertheless, the BWB said it still planned to raise its concerns about the merger to the European Commission.
"We do still have concerns," a spokeswoman for the BWB told Reuters. "We don't believe that all our concerns have been addressed. We want to make sure that there is no harm to Austrian consumers."
Austrian regulatory concerns would not necessarily scupper the deal if the Commission were satisfied that there are no remaining issues to be addressed. The decision was due to be announced by November 30 after the EU regulators delayed their decision in August to give third parties more time. Hutchison has already conceded to EU requests to open up its network to MVNOs.
A merger between Hutchison's 3 Austria and Orange Austria would reduce the number of mobile network operators in the fiercely competitive Austrian market from four to three, uniting the two smallest operators on the market. The scrutiny that the deal has received has surprised some given the abovementioned factors, although others see this as a major test case that would have wider implications for mergers in much larger four-player markets like Germany and Spain.
- see this Reuters article
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