German regional player Airdata filed an official challenge with the European General Court over Telefonica’s $9.6 billion acquisition of E-Plus in Germany, which was completed last year.
The deal, which was approved by the European Commission in July 2014, reduced the number of operators in Germany from four to three.
Airdata released a statement yesterday, arguing that the remedies made by Telefonica to get the green light were insufficient to warrant reducing the number of operators in the country, claiming there was no fair competition in the German market.
Airdata said Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica and Vodafone Germany were now able to dictate prices, pointing to the Austrian market as an example, where prices rose by 30 per cent following Hutchison Whampoa’s takeover of Orange.
Telefonica said last year it would open a fifth of its combined network to MVNO Drillisch, and also sell 10 per cent of its network capacity to the company, as a way to convince regulators to approve the deal. Drillisch’s prices have however kept pace with its larger network rivals.
Airdata’s CEO, Christian Irmler, said the EC should not have approved the takeover because “the commitments made by Telefonica were totally insufficient to ensure lively competition in the interests of consumers”.
According to Reuters, Telefonica said it was aware of the complaint, and that it would not have an immediate effect on its operations.
Cologne’s administrative court is due to deal with the matter later this week.