Germany’s Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) has lodged an application to the European Commission (EC) requesting that the proposed merger of Telefonica Germany (O2) and E-Plus be referred to the German competition authority. ‘This case requires an in-depth examination of whether the merger between the two mobile network operators would lead to competition problems,’ commented Andreas Mundt, president of the Bundeskartellamt, adding: ‘The merger exclusively affects the German mobile communications markets. A referral of the case to the Bundeskartellamt would thus be the right approach.’ In the case of a request for referral the Commission generally has 35 working days from the receipt of the notification to adopt a referral decision or deal with the case itself by opening an in-depth investigation.
Last month shareholders of E-Plus’ Dutch parent Royal KPN approved the sale of its German mobile unit at an extraordinary general meeting, CommsUpdate reported. At the end of October Telefonica submitted a proposal to the EC seeking approval for the acquisition of E-Plus, with the European body stating that it will carry out an initial review of the EUR8.6 billion (USD11.6 billion) deal by 6 December. Following completion of the transaction, which was announced in July, KPN will receive EUR5.0 billion in cash and a 20.5% stake in the enlarged mobile operator. The merger of Germany’s third and fourth largest wireless network operators by subscribers will create a stronger competitor to larger players Telekom Deutschland and Vodafone Germany.