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UK’s CMA to review Liberty Global, Telefonica deal

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The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority is to review the proposed merger of Liberty Global and Telefonica’s mobile brands ahead of the country’s departure from the EU.

Reuters reported the developments today, 48 hours ahead of the deadline for “preliminary scrutiny” from the EU’s competition enforcer.

The companies said in a joint statement: “We remain in constructive dialogue with all relevant stakeholders at the EU and CMA and continue to work to the timeline of completing the deal mid-next year.”

Reuters said the two sought European Commission approval on 30 September, while CMA requested to take over the review on 8 October because of the deal’s impact in Britain, and the added complications of Brexit.

The European Commission came under fire earlier this year following its u-turn on the proposed merger between Telefónica’s O2 and CK Hutchison’s Three. In that case, the near five-year delay was openly criticised by CK Hutchison, which said the Commission’s initial decision had “acted as a break on vital industry consolidation”.

Since then Telefónica’s O2 announced plans to merge with Liberty Global’s Virgin to better compete with BT. After five months of negotiations, that proposal was agreed in a deal worth £42 billion. In October, the EU said it was considering the role of the CMA as the ruling body in the deal.

As Capacity reported at the time, the Commission’s preliminary review was scheduled to end on 19 November.

 

 

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