EU's Almunia sees Telefonica's E-Plus decision in June

BRUSSELS, April 3 Thu Apr 3, 2014 5:11am EDT

BRUSSELS, April 3 (Reuters) - EU regulators hope to decide by June whether to clear Telefonica's bid for KPN's E-Plus unit in Germany, the EU's antitrust chief said on Thursday.

The deal, which has drawn intense regulatory attention as it would reduce the number of mobile operators from four to three in Europe's biggest economy, could pave the way for more mergers in the telecoms industry.

However, telecoms operators are wary on the kind of concessions they would be required to provide to secure regulatory approval. Typical concessions include giving up spectrum and facilitating rivals' access to networks.

European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, who is now examining the German deal and Hutchison Whampoa's bid for Telefonica's Irish unit, said he will decide on the two cases in the next two months.

"The Irish decision is expected more or less by the end of May and the German decision in June probably," he told a conference.

The European Commission on Wednesday extended by 10 working days its scrutiny of the German deal to May 28, giving Telefonica more time to come up with concessions, which will automatically trigger another extension of 15 working days.

The EU deadline for a decision on the Hutchison case is May 19. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Robin Emmott)

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