EU to approve Hutchison's Orange Austria takeover - report

VIENNA/BRUSSELS Wed Nov 21, 2012 6:14am EST

VIENNA/BRUSSELS Nov 21 (Reuters) - The European Union is ready to approve Hutchison Whampoa's 1.3 billion euro ($1.7 billion) takeover of Orange Austria, Austrian newspaper Kurier newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Kurier said it had seen an EU Commission document showing approval of the deal was a formality after Hutchison 3G Austria agreed to give up spectrum in the event a new operator wanted to enter the market.

Hutchison 3G Austria told Reuters it had not yet heard from the EU about any decision, and confirmed it had agreed to give up frequencies if necessary.

A spokesman for competition policy at the Commission said: "Our investigation is ongoing".

The EU is due to decide by Dec. 21 whether to approve a takeover which would cut the number of mobile operators in Austria to three by combining the two smallest.

Kurier said the decision was expected by Nov. 27. ($1 = 0.7811 euro) (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan in Vienna and Foo Yun Chee in Brussels; Editing by Dan Lalor)