October 15, 2018 / 3:40 PM / a month ago

Deutsche Telekom CEO optimistic about EU okay for Tele2 Dutch deal

A Deutsche Telekom logo is seen at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE) is confident it will secure EU antitrust approval to buy Tele2’s (TEL2b.ST) Dutch business, the German company’s chief executive said, adding that the deal was necessary to help the companies compete with bigger rivals.

The EU antitrust enforcer has said the merger of the number three and four players in the Netherlands may lead to price hikes. The industry has criticized this four-to-three focus as too narrow.

Deutsche Telekom last week defended the deal before senior officials at the European Commission, national competition agencies and rivals.

Chief Executive Tim Hoettges said he hoped the hearing addressed some of the regulatory concerns.

“I am still optimistic that we get the deal approved by the European Commission because it is good for the mobile market, good for customers and it is good for the 5G build-out,” Hoettges told reporters on the sidelines of a conference organized by telecoms lobbying group ETNO.

Germany, along with most other European countries, is lagging countries like Japan, Korea and the United States in its plans to roll out 5G, or fifth generation, data networks and services.

Hoettges declined to give details of what concessions the company planned to offer to regulators, but a person familiar with the matter has said a proposal would be submitted to the Commission in the coming weeks. Such proposals typically include asset sales or providing network access to other operators.

“This is a discussion which we have to make bilaterally with the authorities,” Hoettges said.

The Commission is scheduled to decide on the deal by Nov. 30 but can extend the deadline once concessions are offered.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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