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U.K. Antitrust Body Requests Right to Investigate Proposed Merger of Virgin Media, Virgin Mobile and O2

U.K. antitrust organization the Competition and Markets Authority has submitted a request to the European Commission for the proposed merger in the U.K. of broadband and mobile-phone operators Virgin Media and Virgin Mobile with cell-phone company O2 to be referred to the CMA for investigation.

The European Commission was notified about the proposed merger by Liberty Global, which owns Virgin Media and Virgin Mobile, and Telefónica, which owns O2 on Sept. 30.

The proposed merger falls under the remit of the EC to review but can, subject to the agreement of the EC, be transferred to the CMA.

The CMA believes that the case should be transferred given its potential impact on competition in several retail and wholesale telecommunication markets in the U.K.

CMA said Thursday that the legal requirements for the case to be transferred to the CMA have been met, and any impact on competition will be limited solely to U.K. consumers.

Andrea Coscelli, chief executive at the CMA, said: “We’ve sent a formal request to the European Commission to review the proposed deal between Virgin and O2.

“Ultimately, this is a decision for the EC, but as the merger will only impact U.K. consumers – and any effects would only be felt after the end of the transition period (after which the U.K. leaves the EU) – it is only right for the CMA to request it back.”

The initial deadline for the EC to respond to the request is Nov. 19.

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