September 11, 2015 / 9:07 PM / 2 years ago

Hutchison seeks EU okay for O2 buy amidst regulatory headwinds

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Hutchison Whampoa Ltd 0001.HK on Friday sought EU approval for its 10.25-billion-pound ($15.82 billion) bid for Telefonica’s TEF.MC British mobile unit O2, the same day regulators unveiled a tougher approach towards mergers in the sector.

Hutchison Whampoa Ltd and Cheung Kong Holdings Chairman Li Ka-shing smiles as he leaves a news conference on the companies' annual results in Hong Kong February 26, 2015.REUTERS/Bobby Yip

The European Commission said it would decide by Oct. 16 whether to clear the deal, which would make Hutchison’s Three UK business the second-biggest of the UK’s three remaining network operators.

The EU competition authority could either clear the deal with or without conditions or open an extensive investigation if it has serious concerns.

Hutchison could face a strong regulatory headwind after European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager earlier on Friday said she was ready to veto a plan by TeliaSonera TLSN.ST and Telenor TEL.OL to combine forces in Denmark because they had not offered sufficient concessions.

Hutchison, owned by Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, however is no stranger to tough regulatory demands. It was forced to offer significant concessions to secure the EU go-ahead for recent deals in Austria and Ireland.

($1 = 0.6480 pounds)

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Andrew Roche

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