EU regulator voices concerns about Hutchison's O2 Ireland bid

DUBLIN Mon Feb 3, 2014 6:26am EST

The logo of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd is displayed at one of the company's office towers in Hong Kong August 1, 2013. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

The logo of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd is displayed at one of the company's office towers in Hong Kong August 1, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Bobby Yip

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DUBLIN (Reuters) - EU competition regulators have issued a list of concerns to Hutchison Whampoa (0013.HK) over its $1 billion deal to take over Telefonica's (TEF.MC) O2 Ireland business, Hutchison said on Monday.

Regulatory reviews of the Irish merger and another in Germany are viewed by the mobile industry as critical in determining whether the European Commission will allow deals that reduce the number of players in a national market.

The Commission opened an in-depth investigation into the 780 million euro ($1 billion) bid by Hutchison's 3 Ireland for O2 Ireland two months ago, sources told Reuters last week.

The Hutchison subsidiary said that it had received a statement of objections from the European Commission. It declined to give details but said it is confident that it can convince the Commission of the "pro-competitive benefits of the proposed acquisition".

The deal for Telefonica's mobile business in Ireland would quadruple Hutchison's share of the Irish market to 37.5 percent, behind market leader Vodafone's (VOD.L) 39.4 percent but ahead of rival Meteor's 19.7 percent.

The EU watchdog has set an April 24 deadline for its decision. It can extend the review depending on when Hutchison submits concessions.

(Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by David Goodman)

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