European Union anti-trust regulators have now given themselves until June 1 to decide whether or not to approve Orange's plan to buy Spanish fixed-line operator Jazztel, after resuming their scrutiny of the proposed €3.4 billion ($3.65 billion) acquisition.
The European Commission halted its investigation into the deal on Mar. 4 because the companies involved had not provided some of the required information. The process was restarted on Mar. 27 after Orange reportedly submitted a package of concessions to ease competition concerns. The Commission first launched its in-depth probe in December last year.
Orange wants to buy Jazztel to improve its standing in a market that already has a strong heritage in multi-play strategies. Telefónica Movistar led the charge here with the quad-play Fusion plans that combine mobile services with fixed voice, broadband and TV, along with value-added services such as data sharing and free access to content.
Orange Spain also sells converged bundles of fixed and mobile services under Orange Kangaroo, and Vodafone Spain provides a loosely converged fixed and mobile offering under Vodafone Integral. The market's smallest mobile operator, Yoigo, also sells multi-service plans under the Fusion brand.
However, Vodafone Spain expanded its fixed assets with the acquisition of cable operator Ono last year, and is widely expected to launch a more integrated converged offer using the Ono network later in April. This would place it in direct competition with Movistar and up the pressure on Orange.
Last year, it was reported that Jazztel was interested in buying Yoigo, whose future has been up in the air since parent company TeliaSonera said it was considering various options for its Spanish unit including a possible sale. Recent reports now suggest that Yoigo could be part of the solution for Orange.
Cinco Dias said Yoigo has expressed interest in buying network assets that Orange could be forced to sell in order to secure European Union approval for the Jazztel deal. The paper added that TeliaSonera has already contacted the European Commission over the possible purchase of these assets.
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