* Talks aimed at creating additional Italian mobile operator
* Hutchison seeking antitrust nod on merger of 3 Italia and Wind
* Third attempt by Iliad’s Niel to expand outside France (Recasts, adds detail, context)
By Foo Yun Chee and Mathieu Rosemain
BRUSSELS/PARIS, July 4 (Reuters) - France’s Iliad is in exclusive talks on a deal to create a fourth Italian mobile telecoms operator that would smooth the way for CK Hutchison Holdings to merge its 3 Italia with Vimpelcom’s Wind, sources close to the matter said on Monday.
A fourth player would help Hutchison to gain antitrust approval for a merger that would leave Telecom Italia and Vodafone Italia as the only other mobile network competitors in Italy.
Hutchison had offered frequencies and infrastructure assets to Iliad in competition with Swisscom’s Italian broadband business Fastweb, but Iliad is now in pole position, the sources said.
It is the third attempt by billionaire Xavier Niel, majority owner of Iliad, to expand his activities outside France, where he is known for having triggered a price war in 2012 with Free Mobile’s low-cost services.
Niel first tried to get a foothold in the United States with an ultimately unsuccesful bid for Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile unit in 2014. He also considered a move into the British market this year.
The European Commission will have the final say on whether Iliad can compete effectively with the existing network operators.
Hutchison could receive a decsision from the Commission by the end of the week, one of the sources said.
Spokeswomen for Iliad and Hutchison were not immediately available to comment. (Additional reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic; Editing by David Goodman)