Hutchison offers MVNO access to Orange Austria to gain regulators' approval

Hutchison Whampoa is close to gaining control of Orange Austria after bowing to European Commission competition concerns, according to multiple reports.

The Hong Kong-based company, which has offered to purchase the Austrian unit of Orange for €1.3 billion, has proposed opening up the mobile network to MVNOs and enabling new players to enter the market if it succeeds in its deal to buy the Austrian company, which would cut the number of operators in the country from four to three, according to Reuters.

UPC Austria, the country's largest cable TV operator, is one firm that will be allowed to use Hutchison's network to provide services as an MVNO, according to a Bloomberg report citing unnamed sources.

Earlier, Orange Austria had agreed to sell its budget mobile brand Yesss to incumbent Telekom Austria in order to overcome objections from local regulators.

The European Commission is conducting an in-depth review of the agreed takeover of Orange Austria, albeit that the combination of Austria's two smallest players would create an operator with as little as 25 per cent of the market.

However, bankers and analysts are viewing the probe in Austria, a country of eight million people, as a test case for other potential European telecom mergers that would reduce the number of operators to three from four, reports Bloomberg.

Commenting on the deal, a Hutchison statement noted: "We cannot reveal any details at the moment because the process is still ongoing and confidential, but can confirm that a model has been basically agreed with the Commission and is now being tested in the market."

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Bloomberg article

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