If the merger is approved, the new company would become the largest mobile operator in the UK
According to a Reuters report that cites a European Commission filing, the proposed merger of Vodafone and Three does not pose any competition concerns to EU antitrust regulators.
The European Commission is overseeing the review process of the merger, with an official deadline of December 6th for its final decision. Although the process is still ongoing, this filing suggests the final decision will favour the merger.
The two firms officially submitted their request for approval from the European Commission on 30th October.
According to the report, the EU regulatory body is reviewing the potential merger with a “simplified procedure”, which is used when mergers are unlikely to raise competition concerns.
While this approval is no doubt a positive sign for the two UK telcos, the deal is expected to face far greater scrutiny by the UK’s own competition regulators. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced last month that it was seeking views and comments from interested third parties on the deal, ahead of its formal investigation.
“Millions of consumers and businesses in the UK rely on Vodafone’s and Three’s mobile networks to stay connected,” said Sarah Cardell, chief executive of the CMA, in a statement.
“We will be carefully considering how this deal may affect competition in the UK, which could affect the options and prices available to customers. We will also assess how it may affect incentives to invest in the quality of UK mobile networks. This is an opportunity for those with an interest in this merger to let us know their views before we launch a full investigation.”
Those who expressed their concern over the merger included consumer group Which? who concluded that “there is a substantial risk that the merger could have negative outcomes for consumers in the short term, including less choice, lower quality and higher prices”.
Vodafone and Three expect the deal to be completed by the end of next year, should it proceed without any significant issues.
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