CMA set to take over review of proposed O2-Virgin merger?

17 Nov 2020

British competition regulator the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is poised to take over the review of the proposed merger between O2 UK and multi-play service provider Virgin Media, Reuters reports, citing a person familiar with the matter. With the EC having until 19 November deadline to conclude its initial investigation in to the tie-up, however, it has declined to comment on the transfer of the case to the CMA. Meanwhile, a joint statement issued by the companies involved was cited simply as saying: ‘We remain in constructive dialogue with all relevant stakeholders at the EU and CMA and continue to work to the timeline of completing the deal mid-next year.’

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, last month the CMA made a formal request to the EC requesting that the latter transfer the review of the merger to it. At that time, the CMA noted that, while the planned tie-up fell under the remit of the EC to review, it can be transferred to the UK authority – subject to the agreement of the European body. In requesting the transfer, the CMA had argued for this on the basis that of case’s ‘potential impact on competition in several retail and wholesale telecommunication markets in the UK’. Further, the British watchdog claimed that the legal requirements for the case to be transferred to it had already been met, while it also claimed that any impact on competition from the tie-up ‘will be limited solely to UK consumers’.

United Kingdom, Liberty Global (incl. LGI), O2 UK, Telefonica, Virgin Media