European competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia reckons there will likely be a decision about consolidation in the German and Irish mobile markets within the next two months.
“The Irish decision is expected more or less by the end of May and the German decision in June probably,” Almunia told a conference, quoted by Reuters.
The commission is weighing up the pros and cons for Telefonica’s €8.6 billion bid for KPN’s E-Plus unit in Germany.
In Ireland, Hutchison Whampoa’s €850 million bid for Telefonica’s Irish unit is under scrutiny.
According to Reuters, EC yesterday extended by 10 working days its investigation of the German deal in order to give Telefonica more time to come up with concessions.
The commission and Germany’s telecoms regulator reportedly want Telefonica and E-Plus to give up spectrum in the 900MHz and 1.8GHz frequency bands as part of any approval for the merger.
Hutchison’s 3 Ireland has also submitted a number of potential “remedies” to try and allay anti-trust concerns about its bid.
They are believed to include the setting up of a new MVNO, which would later be able to buy some of the merged company’s radio spectrum and customer base.
As competitive and regulatory pressures continue to take their toll, mobile operators are looking to the commission’s decision on Ireland and Germany as test cases on its willingness to reduce the number of mobile network operators from four to three in EU member states.