Watchdog claims impact of £10.25 billion deal will only impact UK consumers and has requested for control over transaction
The Competition and Markets Authority has submitted a request to the European Commission to refer CK Hutchison’s £10.25 billion takeover of O2 back to the UK watchdog for investigation.
The CMA has told the EC, who is set to rule over the Three-parent’s bid to create the UK’s biggest mobile operator with 34 million subscribers, that the deal will only impact UK consumers and should be decided by a UK body.
In a statement to the EC, the CMA said the deal also needs to be considered in line with BT’s proposed £13.5 billion bid to buy EE, which it will rule on.
The CMA said: “The Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) initial view, following consultation and preliminary analysis, is that the transaction threatens to affect significantly competition in the UK retail mobile and wholesale mobile markets.
“The CMA’s also has an ongoing investigation into the BT/EE merger in this market. Given the clear links between these two cases it would be more efficient to also examine the merger between Three and O2, in particular to avoid duplication and fragmentation. The CMA also received support from industry participants in making the request.”
The decision over whether the EC refers the case or not must be made by October 30.
CK Hutchison agreed to buy O2 from Telefonica in March, and submitted its proposal to the EC last month. The Commission’s competition department has set a provisional deadline of 16 October to make a ruling on the case.