UK & EU Regulators Both Want Final Say On O2-Virgin Deal

The UK competition watchdog is going to ask Brussels for full control over the review of the proposed £31 billion (US$38.7 billion) merger between Virgin Media and telecom operator O2, kicking off what is expected to be a fierce battle over which authority gets the ultimate say on the transaction. 

Brussels will receive a request from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which will argue that the merger solely affects UK consumers, reported The Financial Times. 

“This important merger will only impact consumers in the UK and since any review will likely conclude after the transition period, it is only right for the CMA to request it back now,” the CMA told the FT, referring to the December 31 deadline.

Like any EU competition authority, the UK can seek to oversee merger cases that are concentrated in the country. The Virgin Media and O2 deal, however, crosses size thresholds that allow the Commission to oversee the case, meaning ultimately it is for Brussels to decide whether it wants to claim jurisdiction. 

The withdrawal agreement includes provisions for the EU to rule on UK-related mergers, even if the final decision comes after the end of the transition.

Full Content: Financial Times

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