The European Commission (EC) extended the deadline once again – this time to 3 July from 26 June – for its decision on whether or not to wave through Telefonica’s €8.6 billion bid for E-Plus, KPN’s German business unit.
In Ireland, however, the EC – apparently satisfied by concessions made by Hutchison Whampoa’s 3 Ireland in its bid to acquire Telefonica O2’s subsidiary – is reportedly on the brink of giving the merger the green light.
A spokesperson for Telefonica Germany, quoted by Reuters, was nonetheless eager to downplay the significance of the deadline extension.
“The minor delay is normal in such processes with complex negotiations,” he said.
Telefonica has made a number of concessions to try and allay regulatory concerns about reducing the number of mobile network operators in Germany from four to three, including the giving up of spectrum to MVNOs.
Hutchison in Ireland has also submitted a number of potential “remedies” to try and allay anti-trust concerns, but it appears the efforts to help create a fourth player – if the merger goes ahead – has held greatest sway with the EC.
According to Reuters’ sources, Hutchison Whampoa is set for regulatory clearance of its $1 billion bid for Telefonica’s Irish business if a fourth player can be assured.
And according to the report, Hutchison is in the final stage of talks to help Liberty Global’s Irish business, UPC – a provider of internet and cable TV services – to become an MVNO using its network as host.
The Commission has set a 20 June deadline for its decision on Irish consolidation.