Germany's Airdata files challenge to Telefónica-E-Plus merger

Germany-based Airdata filed a challenge to Telefónica Deutschland's €8.6 billion ($9.6 billion) acquisition of E-Plus with the General Court of the European Union.

The regional wireless operator said the approval of the acquisition by the European Commission (EC) was not lawful and that the remedies agreed to by Telefónica were insufficient to ensure fair competition in Germany.

The merger of Telefónica Deutschland with E-Plus reduced the number of mobile operators in the market from four to three. In order to obtain regulatory clearance, the German unit of the Spanish operator agreed to open a fifth of its future combined network to mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Drillisch and allow Drillisch buy a further 10 per cent of its German network capacity.

Despite this move to ensure the market remains competitive following the merger, Airdata said Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica are now dictating prices in Germany.

Telefónica Deutschland told FierceWireless:Europe it was aware that Airdata had filed a legal complaint about the EC's decision to clear the merger last year and would analyse this complaint once it had received it from the court.

"Filing the complaint and a later court case has no direct influence on our operating business as a joint entity," the company noted. "Furthermore: Even a theoretically possible negative decision in that case would not lead to immediate effects on the merger. Even then the court would (only) order the EC to re-evaluate its decision."

Airdata has something of a history in filing complaints about frequency auctions and allocation processes in Germany, and this latest complaint also appears to be tied to decisions taken by German regulator Bundesnetzagentur with regard to frequencies allocated to Telefónica and E-Plus.

Airdata this year challenged Bundesnetzagentur over the conditions the regulator had set for a spectrum auction that is currently taking place in Mainz, Germany. It had also challenged the 2010 spectrum auction in court.

For more:
- see this Airdata release
- see this Reuters article

Related Articles:
Telefónica Deutschland CFO: We have changed the market in Germany forever
Telefónica Deutschland makes confident start to 2015
Report: Telefónica Deutschland to drop E-Plus, BASE and Simyo brands
Telefónica Deutschland completes yourfone sale to Drillisch, rules out more E-Plus asset sales
M&A helps reshape the European mobile landscape