Hutchison, EU to talk on Orange Austria bid: source

BRUSSELS Mon Oct 8, 2012 6:03am EDT

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Hutchison 3G will seek to convince doubting EU regulators of the merits of its 1.3-billion-euro ($1.70 billion) bid for France Telecom's FTE.PA Orange Austria subsidiary at a private hearing on Wednesday, a person familiar with the matter said on Monday.

EU approval of the deal could hinge on the hearing which comes a week after EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia questioned whether Hutchison could offer sufficient concessions to settle concerns about the deal, signaling a possible veto.

Hutchison 3G Austria's chief executive Jan Trionow and Hutchison 3G Europe's deputy chairman Christian Salbaing will argue the case for the company at the closed-door event, said the person, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Senior officials from the European Commission's competition unit, Commission lawyers and representatives from national antitrust agencies are expected to attend.

Oral hearings played a crucial role in helping Oracle ORCL.O secure EU regulatory approval for its 2010 takeover of Sun Microsystems and Sony (6758.T) to merge its recorded business with Bertelsmann AG's unit in 2004, according to antitrust experts.

Hutchison, a unit of Hutchison Whampoa (0013.HK), which is controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, has offered to open its network to rivals at cost price but EU regulators want more concessions before allowing the merger of Austria's two smallest operators.

Telekom Austria (TELA.VI) is the biggest player followed by Deutsche Telekom's (DTEGn.DE) T-Mobile.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Greg Mahlich)