Hutchison Whampoa is set to gain European Union approval for its planned €780 million ($1 billion) acquisition of O2 Ireland as early as May 28, after the deal was reportedly backed by an important EU panel last week.
Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg said officials from the EU's national competition authorities met last week and gave their support to the European Commission's plans to approve the deal. Final approval is then due to be granted at a Commission meeting on Wednesday, the report said.
Earlier in May, Reuters said the Hong Kong-based company is in the last stages of negotiation with Liberty Global-owned UPC to enable it to offer mobile services using the network of 3 Ireland. That would then maintain the number of mobile operators in Ireland at four following Hutchison's acquisition of O2 Ireland from Telefónica.
This would satisfy anti-trust regulators at the European Commission, reports say, as they are concerned about mergers in Europe that would reduce competition within national markets.
The European Commission is currently considering the Hutchison Whampoa deal in Ireland and Telefónica Deutschland's proposed acquisition of KPN's E-Plus.
The Commission on Monday extended the deadline for its decision on the E-Plus deal to July 10, Reuters reported. Liberty Global's German cable unit, Unitymedia, has reportedly said it is not interested in becoming Germany's fourth mobile operator should the deal be approved.
Report: Liberty Global rules out becoming Germany's fourth mobile operator
Report: UPC deal to pave way for EU clearance of Hutchison's Ireland buy
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For European telecoms operators, 4 is a crowd