EU wants to know if Dixons, Carphone deal will push up tablet prices

BRUSSELS Wed May 21, 2014 12:12pm EDT

BRUSSELS May 21 (Reuters) - European Union antitrust regulators are asking British retailers whether the 3.8-billion-pound ($6.40 billion) merger of mobile phone retailer Carphone Warehouse and Dixons Retail will push up the prices of mobile phones and tablets.

Carphone, Europe's largest independent mobile phone retailer, and Europe's No. 2 electrical products group, hope the merger will help them capitalise on the growing popularity of smartphones connected to consumer electronics such as ovens and fridges.

The European Commission is now examining the deal and is scheduled to decide by June 25 whether to clear it, demand concessions or open a lengthy investigation.

Since the merger will take out a major player the new company could potentially exploit its bigger market share to raise the price of mobile devices.

The review focuses on the British mobile phones and tablets market, according to a questionnaire sent to retailers earlier this week and seen by Reuters.

"What impact, if any, will the proposed transaction have on... the price level for the retail sale of mobile phones and tablets in the United Kingdom?" the document asked.

The Commission said the companies have overlapping businesses in Britain, Ireland and Sweden. Retailers have until Friday to respond to the questionnaire.

($1 = 0.5935 British Pounds) (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by Louise Heavens)

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