In a surprise move, Nordic telecoms operators TeliaSonera and Telenor have disclosed that they have decided to withdraw the proposed merger of their respective business units in Denmark, as ‘it is no longer possible’ to gain approval for the proposed transaction from the European Commission (EC). TeliaSonera and Telenor said that they will continue to review their strategic options in the Danish market, with Kjell Morten Johnsen, Head of Region Europe at Telenor, commenting: ‘In the interests of both companies, we felt it necessary to act decisively. TeliaSonera and Telenor will continue to compete and deliver products and services in the Danish market through our respective original, and still fully up-and-running Danish operations.’
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Telenor and TeliaSonera (which operates as Telia in Denmark) unveiled plans to merge their Danish operations into a 50/50 joint venture in December last year. The EC opened an investigation into the deal in April, expressing concerns that it could reduce competition in the local mobile market and lead to higher prices for consumers. The Commission warned that Hi3G and incumbent operator TDC could struggle to compete with the merged entity. As such, the EC laid out its objections to the deal in June.
In early August 2015 Telenor/Telia made commitments to the EC, which triggered a 15-working-day extension of the deadline to decide the case, from 16 September to 7 October. TeliaSonera and Telenor reportedly pledged to sell two blocks of 2100MHz spectrum to a new player, as well as to rent out up to 15% of their combined network capacity to the new rival. An improved offer – comprising the divestment of a 40% stake in infrastructure venture TT-Netvaerket to a new player – was subsequently logged in early September.