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European Commission blocks merger of Three and O2

James Preston

European Commission blocks merger of Three and O2

The proposed merger of mobile giants O2 and Three has been blocked by the European Commission amid concerns over less choice and potential higher prices for customers.

CK Hutchison, the owner of Maidenhead-based Three, had proposed the acquisition of Telefónica UK's O2, which has offices in Slough, in a deal estimated to be worth £10bn.

It would have seen the two firms merge to create a new market leader in the UK mobile market.

Today, the European Commission said it had blocked the deal under the EU Merger Regulation following an in-depth investigation.

It said the merger would remove an ‘important competitor’ for Vodafone and EE and would likely lead to higher prices for mobile services.

It said it was also likely to harm innovation in the mobile sector.

CK Hutchison said it was ‘deeply disappointed’ by the decision and was considering the possibility of a legal challenge.

In a statement, it said it strongly believes ‘that the merger would have brought major benefits to the UK’.

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