The proposed consolidation in Austria’s mobile sector took a small step forward this week, when the Austrian Cartel Court approved the proposed acquisition of YESSS by Telekom Austria without conditions.
The deal forms part of a series of transactions which will also see 3 Austria acquiring Orange Austria, with the latter currently owning discount brand YESSS.
The latest ruling from the Austrian courts is not binding, being subject to appeal by the Austrian Federal Competition Authority and the Federal Cartel Attorney within four weeks. And the deal is also conditional on the closing of the 3/Orange transaction, which is currently under review by the European Commission – the deadline for a decision to be made on this is 21 December 2012.
According to a Reuters report last week, the European watchdogs have invited national regulators to a briefing this week to discuss this deal – which was seen as a signal that it has “no further issues, and subsequent approval is generally a formality”.
However, it was also noted that Austria’s competition authority, BundesWettbewerbsBehorde, still has some concerns, and the group is looking to “make sure there is no harm to Austrian consumers”.
Reuters said that the European regulators are not obliged to take into account the opinions of national regulators, but will publish them alongside its final decision.
The 3/Orange deal is also of interest to other operators looking toward in-market consolidation, for example with several existing players looking at an acquisition of TeliaSonera’s Yoigo in Spain.
Telekom Austria is set to acquire frequencies, base station sites and YESSS! from Orange Austria, for up to EUR390 million. It also still needs approval from the Austrian Telekom-Control-Commission (TKK) for the acquisition of the frequencies.