September 13, 2012 / 12:05 PM / 5 years ago

EU set to object to Hutchison, Orange deal - source

BRUSSELS, Sept 13 (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators are set to object to Hutchison 3G’s 1.3 billion euro ($1.68 billion) bid for France Telecom’s Orange Austria despite an offer by Hutchison to let rivals use its mobile network to boost competition, a source said on Thursday.

The European Commission, which has been examining the deal since June, is worried that a takeover would cut the number of telecoms operators in Austria to three from four and could lead to higher consumer prices.

Hutchison, Austria’s third-largest mobile operator and a unit of Hutchison Whampoa, which is controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, offered the concession last month. The EU executive subsequently sought feedback from rivals and other third parties.

“The Commission is expected to send a statement of objections to Hutchison shortly,” said the source, who is familiar with the situation, but declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Such documents typically set out the regulator’s concerns about the impact planned mergers would have on rivals and consumers.

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