Italy’s competition regulator wants to lead a review into the planned merger between Hutchison and VimpelCom’s operations in Italy, which is currently being scrutinised by the EU competition authority, Reuters reported.
“The European Commission has received a referral request from the Italian authorities and we are assessing it,” spokesman Ricardo Cardoso said in an email.
In December, the EC turned down a request from the UK’s competition authority to lead the probe into Hutchison 3 UK’s proposed merger with Telefonica O2 UK.
The commission said it was better placed than the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority because of its experience in assessing deals in the mobile sector, pointing out that it has run investigations in recent years in both mobile and fixed sectors in Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain and the UK.
It may also want to keep a hold of the Hutchison-VimpelCom deal, which would reduce the number of mobile operators in Italy from four to three.
The two companies claim the combined entity would be able to more effectively compete in Europe’s fourth largest mobile telecoms market.
The EC extended its preliminary investigation into the deal from March 11 to March 30.