The takeover of Orange Austria by Hutchison Whampoa’s H3G Austria unit has reportedly fallen foul of the country’s Federal Competition Authority. It is understood the agency has grave concerns over the mooted divestment of Orange’s wholly-owned mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Yesss!, to larger rival A1 Telekom Austria. According to the Financial Times Deutschland, discussions between all parties have ‘collapsed’, with Federal Competition Authority chief Theodor Thanner unwilling to recommend the deal in its current form.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the EUR1.40 billion (USD1.87 billion) deal between France Telecom-Orange and Hutchison involves H3G offloading around 3,000 of Orange’s 5,000 base stations, divesting surplus frequencies in the 2.1GHz spectrum band, and selling Yesss! to A1 Telekom Austria immediately after the transaction. The main sticking point is transfer of 750,000 Yesss! subscribers, which would allow Telekom to boost its market share to 47%. If the anti-monopoly agency decides to formally block the transfer of the Orange assets to Telekom, Hutchison is understood to be prepared to walk away from the deal.