Hutchison offers EU more Orange Austria concessions
BRUSSELS Oct 22 (Reuters) - Hong Kong's Hutchison 3G has offered more concessions in a bid to get clearance for its planned 1.3 billion euro ($1.69 billion) purchase of France Telecom's Orange Austria, the European Commission said on Monday.
Hutchison submitted its latest concessions to EU antitrust regulators on Friday, the commission said on its website, but it did not provide details, in line with its policy. It extended its deadline for a decision to Dec. 21 from Nov. 30.
EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia has stepped up pressure on Hutchison to sell off spectrum to rivals to allay concerns that the merger would reduce the number of telecoms operators from four to three in Austria.
EU regulators are also worried that Hutchison, a unit of Hutchison Whampoa, which is controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, may ditch its aggressive pricing policy after the merger, leading to higher costs for consumers.
A Hutchison spokesman said the company was not in a position to confirm details of the concessions. Last month, it offered to open its network to rivals at cost price and it has already signed an agreement with Liberty Global cable operation UPC.
Hutchison is the smallest telecoms provider in Austria. Telekom Austria is No. 1, followed by Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile. ($1 = 0.7674 euros) (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Rex Merrifield and Hans-Juergen Peters)
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