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No Liberty Global, Telefonica concessions to EU antitrust regulators

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: A worker makes final touches on the logo of Britain's O2 in preparation for the CeBIT computer fair

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Liberty Global <LBTYA.O> and Telefonica <TEF.MC> have not offered concessions to European Union antitrust regulators reviewing their plan to combine their British businesses, the European Commission website showed on Friday.

The U.S. cable operator and the Spanish telecoms provider want to merge Virgin Media and O2 in a $38 billion (28.8 billion pounds) deal to better compete with market leader BT <BT.L>.

Nov. 12 was the deadline for the two companies to offer concessions should the EU competition enforcer voice concerns. The Commission's website showed none had been submitted.

That could suggest either the deal is heading for unconditional clearance after the EU's preliminary review ends on Nov. 19, or the Commission could open a four-month long investigation after that date.

Unlike deals between mobile operators, those between a cable operator and a telecoms provider typically trigger few to no competition concerns from competition regulators.

A Commission spokeswoman referred to the EU executive's website when asked about concessions.

Liberty Global and Telefonica said in a joint statement that the deal should be swiftly approved.

"We have specifically addressed all of the issues raised in submissions we have made to the CMA, Ofcom and the EU. We have made a compelling case to allow a clearance of the transaction as soon possible," they said, referring to two UK watchdogs.

Britain's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last month asked to take over the review, citing the deal's impact in the UK and after Brexit. The Commission has yet to decide on its request but may be reluctant to hand it over in order to ensure a harmonised policy across the bloc.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Mark Potter)

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