Extracts from the press conference by Joaquín Almunia on the acquisition of Austrian mobile phone operator Orange by H3G
Type: Summary of press conference
End production: 12/12/2012 First transmission: 12/12/2012
On 10 December 2012, Joaquín Almunia, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Competition, gave, in Strasbourg, a press conference on the European Commission's approval under the EU Merger Regulation of the proposed acquisition of Orange's mobile telephony business in Austria by Hutchison 3G (H3G). The approval is conditional upon the implementation of a commitments package that will facilitate the entry of new players into the Austrian mobile telecommunications market. The Commission had concerns that the elimination of one out of only four mobile network operators in Austria could have led to less competition and higher prices, to the detriment of end consumers. To address these concerns, H3G submitted remedies, offering in particular to divest radio spectrum and related rights and to provide wholesale access to its network. In light of these commitments, the Commission concluded that the transaction would no longer raise competition concerns.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Arrival of Joaquín Almunia, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Competition, to the press conference in Strasbourg
||Soundbite by Joaquín Almunia (in ENGLISH): The Commission has approved today the acquisition of Orange Austria - the third largest Mobile Network Operator in Austria - by its rival Hutchison 3G. This approval is subject to a number of conditions which ensure that the merger will not harm competition.
||Soundbite by Joaquín Almunia (in ENGLISH): I think consolidation at the European level, across national borders, can be a good thing if it brings new services, more choice and lower prices to customers.
||Soundbite by Joaquín Almunia (in ENGLISH): The acquisition of Orange Austria by Hutchison 3G brings the four mobile-network operators in Austria down to three. The company resulting from the merger will face only two competitors: the incumbent Telecom Austria and T-Mobile Austria. Virtual mobile network operators without a full own network, the so-called MVNOs, practically do not exist in Austria today.
Our in-depth investigation showed that without proper remedies, the market power of the new entity would have been very high. Today half of customers who are switching to a new supplier for their smartphones choose either Hutchison or Orange. While Hutchison is currently an important competitive force in the Austrian market, its incentive to continue to compete in such a way would have been reduced..
||Joaquín Almunia at the end of the press conference