The European Commissioner blocks potential Three/O2 merger
CK Hutchison's planned £10.25 billion takeover of O2 has been blocked by the European Commission.
European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has prohibited the merger. The proposed deal has been subject to much scrutiny following a year of negotiations between CK Hutchison and the EU Commissioner in Brussels.
One of the main concerns is that should the acquisition be allowed to be completed, the number of mobile network operators within the UK would fall from four to three - this was a concern raised by both Ofcom and the Competitions and Markets Authority.
Commissioner Vestager commented on the decision to block the merger saying, "We want the mobile telecoms sector to be competitive, so that consumers can enjoy innovative mobile services at fair prices and high network quality. The goal of EU merger control is to ensure that tie-ups do not weaken competition at the expense of consumers and businesses."
"Allowing Hutchison to takeover O2 at the terms they proposed would have been bad for UK consumers and bad for the UK mobile sector. We had strong concerns that consumers would have had less choice finding a mobile package that suits their needs and paid more than without the deal."
Vestager also stated that, "It would also have hampered innovation and the development of network infrastructure in the UK, which is a serious concern especially for fast moving markets. The remedies offered by Hutchison were not sufficient to prevent this."