The European Commission (EC) set a deadline of 26 October to make a decision on a proposed acquisition of Play, Poland’s largest operator, by Iliad which was announced earlier this week.
In a filing on its website, the regulator said it would rule on the future of the deal by late next month, either clearing the tie-up with or without concessions, or opening a four-month investigation if it has serious concerns.
Iliad announced a €3.5 billion deal, including debt, to take control of Play through a two-part bid, striking an agreement to acquire 40 per cent of the company from its two largest shareholders and buying the remaining shares through a tender offer.
The EC could, however, have some concerns, given Play is currently Poland’s largest operator with a 29 per cent market share.
Iliad, owned by French billionaire Xavier Niel, also has a reputation of shaking-up mobile markets, instigating price wars in France and Italy through low-cost offers.
It is also likely Iliad will look to expand Play’s operations beyond mobile, potentially with the launch of convergence offers in the country.
The EC has notably also taken a hard line on telecoms mergers in recent years, blocking a number of deals on competition grounds. These include an agreement between Telia and Telenor in Denmark in 2015, and CK Hutchison’s proposed takeover of O2 UK in 2016.
However, with the latter decision overturned by Europe’s second-highest court earlier this year, market watchers have suggested a new round of consolidation in the sector could be on the cards.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back