Italy’s Three/Wind merger to go ahead by end of year

Italy’s Three/Wind merger to go ahead by end of year

The €7.9 billion merger of VimpelCom and CK Hutchison’s mobile businesses in Italy will go ahead by the end of 2016 after the two companies received approval from the Italian authorities.

Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development gave the companies the final approval for their 50-50 joint venture that will see Wind Italy merge with Three Italy. The European Commission has already approved the deal.

“CK Hutchison and VimpelCom welcome the approval, which means that the transaction remains on track to complete by the end of the year,” said the companies in a statement from their respective headquarters in Hong Kong and Amsterdam.

“The combined entity will deliver major investment into Italy’s digital infrastructure, bring benefits to consumers and businesses across Italy and unlock significant value through synergies.”

The deal will also make way for French company Iliad to launch an operator in Italy. The merging groups offered Iliad, which owns Free Mobile in France, spectrum for €450 million and access to masts as a concession to Italian and European authorities. Xavier Niel, controller of Iliad, will sell his “marginal stake” in Telecom Italia so that this part of the deal can go ahead, he said in July.

Meanwhile CK Hutchison is still thought to be considering taking action against the European Commission for blocking its proposed purchase of O2 UK from Telefónica earlier this year.

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