Hutchison Whampoa presses EU for O2 mobile deal

O2-BMD-Stick-LifeHutchison Whampoa
has asked for EU approval for its $15.82 billion bid for Telefonica’s British mobile unit O2.

Normally this would have been a done deal, but regulators unveiled a tougher approach towards mergers in the sector on the same day. Most experts are expecting the EU to throw one or two spanners in the works.

The European Commission said it would decide by October 16 whether to clear the deal, which would make Hutchison’s Three UK business the second biggest of the UK’s three remaining network operators.

The EU competition authority could clear the deal either with or without conditions or open an extensive investigation if it has serious concerns.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager on Friday said she was ready to veto a plan by TeliaSonera and Telenor to combine forces in Denmark because they had not offered sufficient concessions.

Hutchison is owned by Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing and has been forced to offer significant concessions to secure the EU go-ahead for recent deals in Austria and Ireland.