Hutchison seeks EU okay for O2 buy amidst regulatory headwinds

Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. on Friday sought EU approval for its 10.25-billion-pound ($ 15.82 billion) bid for Telefonica’s British mobile unit O2, the same day regulators unveiled a tougher approach towards mergers in the sector.
The European Commission said it would decide by 16 October whether to clear the deal, which would make Hutchison’s Three UK business the second-biggest of the UK’s three remaining network operators.
The EU competition authority could either clear the deal with or without conditions or open an extensive investigation if it has serious concerns.
Hutchison could face a strong regulatory headwind after European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager earlier on Friday said she was ready to veto a plan by Telia Sonera and Telenor to combine forces in Denmark because they had not offered sufficient concessions.
Hutchison, owned by Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, however is no stranger to tough regulatory demands. It was forced to offer significant concessions to secure the EU go-ahead for recent deals in Austria and Ireland.