EU denies Germany lead role in E-plus/ Telefónica investigation

The European commission has rejected a request from Germany to lead the investigation into the $12 billion acquisition of E-Plus by Telefónica Deutschland.

In November last year, Germany’s competition authority requested to be the lead investigator into the bid which could potentially reduce the number of mobile telecoms operators in Germany from four to three.

However the commission denied this request, arguing that there is a need for a consistent application of the merger control rules in the EU. The commission has until May 2014 to rule on the deal.

The deal would combine the two companies and create a player of similar size to the two leading operators, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone.

This ruling is indicative of whether the European Commission will allow deals which reduce the number of players in a national market.