The European Commission cleared on Wednesday the acquisition of the Orange Austria mobile business by Hutchison 3G, part of the ports-to-telecoms conglomerate owned by Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing.
The deal, worth €1.3 billion (HK$13.1 billion), can go through, however, only on condition that Hutchison sell assets and provide access to its network so as to help the entry of new players into the Austrian mobile telephone market.
Hutchison plans to combine Orange Austria with its own Austrian operation, 3Austria.
The Commission said it was concerned that the takeover of the France Telecom unit by Hutchison would eliminate “one out of only four mobile network operators in Austria ... to the detriment of end consumers.”
As people used mobile phones more and more, the industry makes a major contribution to growth and the risks of concentration could not be ignored, EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said.
“The commitments proposed ... ensure that competition is preserved so that Austrian consumers continue to enjoy the benefits of innovation and fair prices,” Almunia said.