EU regulators extend Telefonica, E-Plus deal to July 3

BRUSSELS Mon May 19, 2014 9:46am EDT

BRUSSELS May 19 (Reuters) - European Union antitrust regulators will decide by July 3 whether to clear Telefonica's 8.6-billion-euro ($11.8 billion) offer for KPN's German arm, extending the deadline for what they called procedural reasons.

The bid by Europe's biggest telecoms operator by revenue for E-Plus has triggered scrutiny from the European Commission as it will reduce the number of players in Europe's largest market from four to three.

But Telefonica Deutschland spokesman Albert Fetsch said the extended deadline was normal and did not signify problems with the EU competition authority.

"The minor delay is normal in such processes with complex negotiations," he said.

Commission spokesman for competition policy Antoine Colombani confirmed the new deadline.

Telefonica, which sweetened its offer of concessions earlier this month, is now talking to several German mobile virtual network operators looking to take the place of E-Plus and allay regulatory concerns.

($1 = 0.7297 Euros) (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by Louise Heavens)

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