Telefónica Deutschland said it remains confident that it will secure regulatory clearance from the European Commission for its planned €8.6 billion ($11.9 billion) acquisition of KPN's German unit E-Plus in the second quarter, and said it would then expect to close the transaction in mid-2014.
The comments by the German operator were made in response to reports that it has sweetened its offer of concessions in order to win European Union approval for the deal, which is regarded by many as a benchmark for how the Commission will deal with mergers and acquisitions in the telecoms market in future.
Although Telefónica Deutschland did not provide any details of any concessions that may have been made, company spokesman Albert Fetsch told FierceWireless:Europe that "we have now filed a modified remedy concept with the EC."
"We cannot comment on any speculations and details as the filing of remedies is a non-public part of the merger clearance process," Fetsch said. "We remain confident on regulatory approval in Q2 and as such to close the transaction in mid-2014."
It was reported in April that Telefónica Deutschland had offered to lease spectrum above 2GHz and allow rivals to access its network. Sources told Reuters that the first package of concessions was not enough to allow the emergence of a fourth mobile operator once E-Plus has been merged with Telefónica Deutschland, which uses the O2 brand name in Germany.
The Commission is now understood to be seeking further feedback on the revised concessions, with a deadline of May 5. The deadline for a decision on the E-Plus deal has been set as June 23.
Telefónica Deutschland notified the European Commission of its plans to acquire E-Plus on October 31, 2013. The Commission has been investigating the proposed deal since that date, and in the meantime has rejected a German appeal to refer the planned acquisition to the German competition authority for assessment under German competition law.
Since then Germany's telecoms regulator, Bundesnetzagentur, has said it wants Telefónica Deutschland and E-Plus to give up some of their spectrum assets if the European Commission approves the deal.
Meanwhile the European Commission is also investigating plans by Hutchison Whampoa's 3 Ireland to buy one of Telefónica's European assets, O2 Ireland, but that deal is also mired in regulatory proceedings, with a decision again expected in June.
- see this Reuters article
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