BRUSSELS, March 20 EU antitrust regulators are
seeking industry feedback over concessions offered by Hutchison
Whampoa to secure approval for its $1 billion bid for
Telefonica's 02 Ireland, two people familiar with the
matter said on Thursday.
Hong Kong-based conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa submitted
fresh concessions to the European Commission earlier this week
after a March 5 proposal failed to satisfy the European Union
authority, said one of the people, declining to provide details.
The company is prepared to sell radio spectrum and continue
a network sharing agreement with rival eircom's subsidiary
Meteor, the third-biggest operator in Ireland, a source familiar
with the matter told Reuters last month.
Hutchison, controlled by Asia's richest man, Li Ka-shing,
wants to reinforce its position in Europe where it operates in
six national markets.
The deal is a sign of how tough the European Commission will
be on telecoms mergers, especially over a bigger deal in Germany
where Telefonica Deutschland wants to buy KPN's
E-Plus for 8.6 billion euros.
Both deals would reduce the number of players in their
respective markets from four to three, a figure which regulators
fear would result in reduced competition and higher prices for
A Hutchison spokesman confirmed the start of the
Commission's market test. Commission spokesman for competition
policy, Antoine Colombani, declined to comment.
Depending on the market test, the Commission could either
demand more concessions from Hutchison or clear the deal. It has
set a May 18 deadline for its decision.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Mark Potter)