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EU: UK Watchdog calls on Brussels to block the £10.3bn Three/O2 merger

 |  April 11, 2016

The competition watchdog has urged the European Commission not to approve the proposed £10.3bn merger between O2 and Three.

CK Hutchison Holdings, the conglomerate which owns Three, announced it was looking to buy O2 from its Spanish parent Telefonica in March last year.

It would create the largest mobile operator in the UK, cornering more than a third of the market.

However, the deal is being investigated by European regulators amid concerns it could reduce competition and push up prices.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) today wrote to EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager explaining why it objects to the merger.

CMA chief executive Alex Chisholm said: “We believe this merger would give rise to a significant impediment to effective competition in retail and wholesale mobile telecoms markets.”

He said measures offered by CK Hutchison to appease concerns “are materially deficient as they will not lead to the creation of a fourth Mobile Network Operator (MNO) capable of competing effectively and in the long-term with the remaining three MNOs such that it would stem the loss of competition caused by the merger”.

The only remedy the CMA would accept is the sale of either the Three or O2 business, to ensure there are still four competing mobile operators in the UK.

Full content: Telegraph

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