Hutchison, T-Mobile Austria clash over Orange Austria purchase

Hutchison Whampoa, recently in the news for its €2 billion bid for Irish telco Eircom, has said it hopes to gain regulatory approval for its acquisition of Orange Austria by the middle of this year. However, T-Mobile Austria has called for changes to the deal in order to avoid giving Hutchison what it describes as "unacceptable competitive advantages" in building an LTE network.

Following Hutchison's announcement that it has submitted the takeover plan to the European Union regulatory authorities in Brussels, T-Mobile Austria said in a statement that it did not oppose market consolidation in principle, but said the deal cannot be approved without restrictions.

T-Mobile Austria said it believes that the proposed deal would have a significant negative impact on competition to the benefit of 3 Austria and market leader A1 Telekom Austria.

T-Mobile Austria CEO Robert Chvatal called on Austrian and European regulators to closely examine the proposed sale of Orange Austria frequencies in the 900 MHz and 2100 MHz bands and its discount unit Yesss! to A1. In its current form, he said he believes that the deal would give 3 Austria and A1 an unacceptable competitive advantage in the rollout of LTE broadband networks, to the detriment of T-Mobile Austria.

Chvatal noted that the sale of Yesss! to A1 would increase the incumbent's market share to almost 50 per cent, reducing competition in the low-cost segment and further cementing A1's leadership in the fixed-line market, since Yesss! also has 10,000 fixed customers.

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

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