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Exclusive: EU set to investigate Deutsche Telekom, Tele2's Dutch deal - sources


By Foo Yun and Olof Swahnberg

BRUSSELS/STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - is set to face a four-month investigation by EU antitrust regulators into its bid to buy the Dutch business of Swedish peer Tele2, two people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The move by the underscores its hard line against telecoms deals in markets where the number of players would be reduced from four to three and there are fears of consumers being hit with higher bills.

Stiff opposition from the EU competition enforcer scuppered a plan by and to merge their businesses in in 2015.

A year later, it blocked CK Hutchison Holdings' bid to merge its subsidiary with Telefonica's O2 UK, but then allowed Hutchison to combine its Italian mobile network unit with that of after securing hefty concessions.

Telecoms operators have urged the Commission to take a broader view of the industry and not focus only on the number of telecoms operators in a market, while regulators say a softer line may be justified by cross-border mergers.

wants to buy Tele2's Dutch assets and combine them with its T-Mobile Nederland, enabling it to better compete with local rivals and and are the third and fourth biggest players in the Netherlands, a market dominated by and

had a 43 percent share of the Dutch market at the end of 2017, 30.5 percent and 21 percent, while Tele2's share was negligible.

The Commission, whose preliminary review of the deal is scheduled to finish on June 12, declined to comment. said it was waiting for the EU announcement, while did not respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Foo Yun in Brussels and in Stockholm, additional reporting by in Amsterdam and Nadine Schimroszik in Berlin; Editing by and Mark Potter)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, June 12 2018. 16:59 IST