Date
23 May 2017
Customers view products at a 3 Italia mobile phone store, run by CK Hutchison Holdings, in Rome, Italy.  The company's 21.8 billion euro deal with VimpelCom   would create Italy’s largest wireless provider by customers. Photo: Bloomberg
Customers view products at a 3 Italia mobile phone store, run by CK Hutchison Holdings, in Rome, Italy. The company's 21.8 billion euro deal with VimpelCom would create Italy’s largest wireless provider by customers. Photo: Bloomberg

Hutchison-VimpelCom Italian deal facing EU objections

The European Union is preparing to send CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. (00001.HK) and VimpelCom Ltd. a statement of objections listing antitrust concerns over their 21.8 billion euro (US$24.7 billion) deal to create Italy’s largest wireless provider by customers, Bloomberg reports, citing three people familiar with the matter.

EU regulators are expected to issue the document in June, laying out its concerns about how the 50-50 venture could hurt competition in Italy, the sources said.

The European Commission has launched a probe into the partnership amid worries it could increase prices and reduce choice for customers.

While being sent a statement of objections increases the risk that deals can be blocked, most big mobile phone industry tie-ups in recent years have faced such a filing.

Companies can overcome potential antitrust issues by selling units or making agreements that aid smaller rivals.

The EU is taking a tougher line on mobile-phone mergers and is expected to formally block Hutchison’s bid for Telefonica SA’s phone business in the United Kingdom as soon as next week after the companies failed to make convincing concessions to placate regulators, the report said.

A Danish mobile deal also collapsed last year in the face of EU opposition.

Hutchison and VimpelCom declined immediate comment.

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RA/CG

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