June 24, 2015 / 5:35 PM / 4 years ago

EU regulators ask customers if Nokia, Alcatel deal will hinder rivals

A view of Nokia's head offices in Espoo, Finland, April 15, 2015. REUTERS/Antti Aimo-Koivisto/Lehtikuva

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators are asking telecoms equipment customers whether Finnish telecoms equipment maker Nokia’s NOK1V.HE 15.6-billion-euro ($17.4 billion) bid for French peer Alcatel-Lucent would be bad for the market.

The merged company would rank between market leader Ericsson (ERICb.ST) and Chinese rival Huawei [HWT.UL] and ahead of others including ZTE (000063.SZ) and Samsung (005930.KS).

Nokia is looking to the deal to boost its exposure in the lucrative U.S. market and expand its product line-up. The bid is one of several recent deals in the telecoms sector as companies attempt to scale up to boost growth and fund major projects.

In a questionnaire sent to customers and seen by Reuters, the European Commission asked whether ZTE and Samsung could be considered as reliable alternatives in the radio access networks (RAN) industry.

“Do you consider that the proposed transaction reduces the number of alternative vendors... in a way that it would hamper competition,” the respondents were asked.

The document also asked whether the deal would affect barriers to switching.

Companies were told to reply by June 29. The Commission has until July 27 to decide whether to clear the deal. Regulators in the United States, Brazil and Serbia have already given the green light.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Elaine Hardcastle

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