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European Regulatory Spotlight: EU commissioners to reject Three-O2 merger


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European Regulatory Spotlight: EU commissioners to reject Three-O2 merger

In this bi-weeklyfeature, SNL Kagan provides a roundup of significant recent regulatory eventsin Europe.


* EU commissioners areset to meet inStrasbourg on May 10, to discuss and are expected to reject CK HutchisonHoldings Ltd.-owned Three's proposed takeover of 'sBritish mobile operator unit O2. The EU is expected to release a statementregarding the proposed deal within the week, the Financial Times reports,citing three people with knowledge of the matter. EU antitrust chief MargretheVestager is reportedly wary about reducing the number of U.K. mobile operatorsfrom four to three, citing potential price increases and reduced choices forconsumers. Hutchison earlier said it is prepared to challenge an EU regulatoryveto on the deal.


* Alphabetunit Googlecould be hit with its first EU fine in 2016 overits comparison shopping service, Reuters reportedon April 29, citing people familiar with the matter. Google is reportedly notplanning to settle the matter with the European Commission, following threefailed attempts to reach a deal with the latter since 2010. The company is alsofacing an EU probe over its Android mobile operating system.

* GettyImages said in an April 26 newsrelease that it  a competition law complaint against  with the European Commission. The complaint follows onfrom Getty Images' submission in June 2015, when it joined as an interested third party in support of theEuropean Commission's existing investigation into Google's anti-competitivebusiness practices. Getty Images' complaint focuses specifically on changesmade in 2013 to Google Images, the image search functionality of Google.


* Britishtelecoms watchdog Ofcom launched a consultation onMay 9 in relation to its current Wholesale Local Access market review,in order to determine future regulation of access connections used in telephoneand broadband internet services. Ofcom will review if , among others, stillholds significant market power in the WLA and Wholesale Fixed Analog ExchangeLine markets in the U.K., and whether remedies are needed to protect andpromote competition at the retail level. Stakeholders are invited to submitresponses on the matter until June 7.

* British media regulator Ofcom approved the change ofcontrol of the Channel 3 license for Northern Ireland, which resulted fromITV's acquisition of UTV Media's media assets,including UTV Ltd., according to a May 4 statement.Ofcom said the change of control is unlikely to be prejudicial to theCommunications Act.

* The Sun willface a court trial over phone hacking allegations for the first time, after ahigh court judge determined that a case against the tabloid could proceed, The Guardian reportedApril 28. Entertainer Les Dennis and three otherclaimants reportedly claimed that 40 articles published in the newspaper wereobtained through phone hacking, some of which were published while the paperwas edited by recently reinstated News UK CEO Rebekah Brooks. News UK is a unitof News Corp.

* Appleis facing a new hearing before Irish independentbody An Bord Pleanála, in relation to the tech giant's proposed data center in County Galway, the Irish Independent (Dublin) reported onApril 26. The hearing is reportedly in response to objections to the facility,such as traffic congestion and inadequate consideration for the local batpopulation. An Apple spokesman said reactions to the project have been "overwhelminglypositive" and that the company would address the issues raised.

* A Dublin court slapped a €25,000 fine on  unit MeteorMobile Communications for removing a 50% discount from the phonecontracts of 123 customers without notification, The Irish Times reportedon April 25. The customers' bills reportedly doubled after the discountremoval. Eir also did not offer the affected customers an option to exit theircontracts without penalty, as required under statutory regulations.


* New York City officials are set to conditionallyapprove Altice'sproposed acquisition of CablevisionSystems Corp., the New YorkPost reportedon May 5, citing a draft resolution. The city'sFranchise and Concession Review Committee will recommend approval of the $17.7billion deal on May 11, provided the Netherlands-based operatorstrikes a deal with New York state regulators. The state's Public ServiceCommission reportedly asked Altice to commit to maintaining levels ofcustomer-facing workers for an "appropriate time period," among otherconcessions. New York state officials are also expected to approve the deal onMay 20. The FCC approved themerger on May 3.

* Gameloft lost its appeal to suspend a hostiletakeover by , Reuters reportedon May 4. Vivendi, which holds 29% of Gameloft shares, launched an unsolicitedtender offer on March 21. France's market regulator AMF set May 27 as thedeadline for Vivendi's bid for the French video game developer and publisher. Aseparate complaint against a declaration of compliance related to Vivendi'stakeover bid is still ongoing.

* The Swedish public prosecutor has decided to end aninvestigation of possible corruption by Swedish telecom group  inAzerbaijan, business daily Dagens Industri reportedon May 3. The prosecutor did not find any proofthat illegal bribery had occurred. Last year, Sweden's public broadcaster SVTrevealed that Telia gave a portion of its subsidiary Azercell to a partnerlinked to the presidential family in Azerbaijan. The transaction had a value ofapproximately 6 billion Swedish kronor. Telia is still being investigated forpossible corruption in Uzbekistan.


* Vodafone Spain wants nationalantitrust watchdog CNMC to pressure Telefónica into opening up Formula 1 rights to rivals, Digital TVEurope wroteon May 6, citing local reports. Telefónica is reportedly refusing to share F1coverage to rivals until July, a timetable which the  unit cannot accept.

* Spanish antitrust watchdog CNMC is probing 11 ITfirms in the country for possible market collusion, Telecompaper reported on April 25.Following a lead from tax authorities, the watchdog is currently keeping tabson Atos Spain, IBM, Cibernos Consulting, Software AG España, Indra, Gesein,Connectis ICT Services, Informatica El Corte Ingles, Next Computer Services,Axpe Consulting and Everis Spain to see if the companies violated EUcompetition laws, according to the report.


* Slovenian industry body Zdruzenje Sazas filed twolawsuits against TelekomSlovenije for alleged copyright infringement,Telecompaper reportedon April 26. The organization is reportedly seeking €1.41 million, plus costsfor collectively managed TV retransmission rights from January 2011 to June2012, and for December 2012. It is also claiming €331,112 plus costs forretransmission of radio programs from January 2011 to June 2012, and fromDecember 2012 to December 2015, according to the report. Telekom Slovenijereportedly said it will study the basis of the claims first.