According to Reuters, European Union (EU) regulators have raised further objections to the proposed EUR1.4 billion (USD1.87 billion) bid by Hutchison 3G Austria (H3G) for France Telecom-Orange’s Austrian mobile unit, and will now carry out a full probe into the transaction. The European Commission, which has been examining the takeover since June, maintains that it is concerned that the deal will cut the number of telecoms operators in Austria from four to three and lead to higher consumer prices. Hutchison, Austria’s smallest mobile operator by subscribers, has already offered to let broadband operators such as UPC Austria and Tele2 Austria access its enlarged network as mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), in an effort to allay regulatory concerns, but Hutchison now fears that the EU’s comprehensive probe will lead to more concessions. H3G Austria’s chief executive Jan Trionow told Reuters that Hutchison will work with the EU watchdog, but warned that further stipulations would erode the benefits of the deal for consumers and may end up benefiting the market’s larger players, A1 Telekom Austria and T-Mobile Austria. The competition watchdog has set a 30 November deadline for its final decision.
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