EC clears Hong Kong-basec Hutchison’s acquisition of Orange Austria

Austrian mobile phone user

The European Commission (EC) announced it had given a conditional nod to the mobile unit of Hong Kong diversified group Hutchison Whampoa Ltd (HKG:0013) for its proposed acquisition of Orange Austria Telecommunication GmbH.

In a statement, the regulator said it feared that the planned EUR1.3bn (USD1.7bn) transaction could reduce competition and raise prices in the Austrian mobile telecommunications market. However, the buyer, Hutchison 3G Austria GmbH (H3G), had agreed to address these concerns by selling radio spectrum and related rights in addition to providing wholesale access to its network.

H3G informed the EC about the planned takeover in May 2012 and saw the regulator open an in-depth investigation into the deal the following month. The commission then expressed its competition concerns on 20 September 2012.

Hutchison, controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, agreed to buy Orange Austria in February from France Telecom SA (EPA:FTE) and private equity firm Mid Europa Partners.

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