The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation under the EU Merger Regulation into the planned acquisition by Hutchison 3G Austria (“3”) of its competitor Orange. Both companies provide mobile telephony services in Austria.
The Commission’s initial market investigation has found that the proposed acquisition may create significant competition problems by removing Orange as a competitor in the retail market for end consumers and on the wholesale market for network access and call origination.
“The merger will reduce the number of network operators from 4 to 3 in Austria. Therefore, the Commission must make sure that this concentration does not lead to higher prices for end consumers”, commented the Commission’s Vice-President Joaquín Almunia.
The Commission will now investigate the proposed acquisition in-depth to determine whether these initial concerns are confirmed or not. The decision to open an in-depth inquiry does not prejudge the final result of the investigation. The Commission now has up to 90 working days to take a final decision on whether the concentration would significantly impede effective competition within the Common Market.
The transaction was notified to the Commission on 7 May 2012. Here to read more.