Orange and MasMovil’s $19 billion Spanish telecoms merger faces a full-scale EU antitrust investigation, three people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday, in a test of whether EU regulators might ease up on deals in the sector.
The tie-up between Spain’s second and fourth largest telecoms operators is the first big deal since the European Commission blocked CK Hutchison’s $12.6 billion purchase of Telefonica’s British mobile unit O2 in 2016.
It comes as the Commission’s industry chief Thierry Breton urges a regulatory rethink on cross-border telecoms deals.
The EU competition enforcer said its preliminary investigation was ongoing. Orange declined to comment.
The Commission will open a so-called in-depth probe following the end of its preliminary review on April 3, the people said, adding that MasMovil would likely have to offer remedies to secure the green light.
The Commission, which acts as the competition enforcer for the European Union, is also expected to reject a request from the Spanish antitrust watchdog to take over the case, the people said. Reuters