CK Hutchison’s 3 Italy and VimpelCom-owned Wind will secure antitrust approval to merge in the country, after agreeing concessions with EU regulators that will help France’s Iliad enter the market as a new competitor.
According to Reuters sources, the European Commission will now clear the €21.8 billion merger, first announced a year ago, following the deal with Iliad struck last week that will see it acquire certain assets resulting from the merger, helping it gain a foothold in Italy as the country’s fourth operator.
Concerns over the future of the deal heightened in May after the EC put the brakes on a similar deal in the UK, also involving CK Hutchison, which proposed to acquire Telefonica’s O2 in the country.
Regulators took the decision to block the deal amid competition concerns, as it would have shrunk the market to three players, a similar case to the Italian deal.
Since then, Hutchison and VimpelCom opened up the possibility of helping a new competitor join the market, and France’s Iliad jumped on the opportunity.
The company, founded by French businessman Xavier Niel, notably had a significant impact on the French market after launching Free Mobile, a low cost offering that caused a price war in the country.
The commission is expected to make an official decision on the deal by 8 September.