The European Commission (EC) has again extended the deadline for its decision on Telefonica’s proposed acquisition of German mobile operator E-Plus by a further five working days to 10 July. Reuters quotes a Telefonica Deutschland spokesman as saying that the extension is quite normal and simply procedural. Earlier this month the EC halted its investigation into the EUR8.55 billion (USD11.9 billion) deal, as Telefonica failed to submit the required documents. The clock was restarted on 8 May and the EC’s deadline date pushed back to 26 June and subsequently to 3 July.
Netherlands-based KPN agreed to sell E-Plus to Telefonica in July 2013 and in December the EC opened an in-depth investigation into the transaction, TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes. If approved, the combination of Telefonica and E-Plus would reduce the number of network operators from four to three, with the enlarged Telefonica becoming the market leader ahead of Telekom Deutschland and Vodafone Germany. Meanwhile, WirtschaftsWoche Online writes that the EC is considering a proposal to smooth the way for a new entrant, should the merger of Telefonica and E-Plus go ahead. According to the report, as well as frequencies, a potential fourth operator could receive additional support in the form of sites for mobile towers, around 200 shops and a call centre for customer services.