The EU has blocked the CK Hutchison — owner of Three UK — bid to take over Telefonica's O2 operations in the UK due to concerns that the merger would limit customer choice and increase prices. As reported by the BBC, the deal was to be worth around £10.3 billion, reducing the number of major operators to just three — EE, Three and Vodafone.
CK Hutchison has stated the company is considering a legal challenge to the decision. Europe's competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, explained the decision made by the EU:
"The goal of EU merger control is to ensure that tie-ups do not weaken competition at the expense of consumers and businesses. 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 EU found that concessions offered by the Hong Kong company, which included a five-year price freeze and investment worth billions of pounds, were insufficient. Interestingly, the EU has issues with two companies merging together within the industry but had absolutely no issue at all with EE having exclusive access to 4G when the company launched in the UK back in 2012.
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