CK Hutchison will attempt to win over the EU competition authority to the benefits of its £10.25 billion bid for Telefonica O2 UK at a crunch meeting next week.
According to an unnamed source speaking to Reuters, the closed-door session was originally scheduled for 4 March but has been shifted to 7 March and will not just involve representatives of Hutchison, Telefonica and the commission.
Also present will be UK rivals Vodafone, BT (owner of EE), Sky, Liberty Global-owned Virgin Media andTalkTalk.
Hutchison has publicly wooed the commission with arguments about the competitive benefits that will flow from merging its 3 UK unit and O2.
Now the company will find out if its charm offensive has impressed Margrethe Vestager, the EU competition chief.
Most observers expect Vestager to take a hard line on the Hutch/O2 deal, pressing for the creation of a fourth operator. The question then is whether Hutchison can accept such a remedy.
Among those who are thought to have thrown their hat in the ring as potential fourth operators are TalkTalk, an existing player in the UK, as well as Xavier Niel’s Iliad, the disruptive French operator.