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Recent developments in the assessment of telecom mergers in the European Union

Pinar Bagci, Lucrezio Figurelli and Pedro L. Marín

Keywords: European Commission; mergers; telecommunications; mobile network operator; efficiencies; investment; prices; innovation

This article reviews recent merger decisions in the European Union telecoms sector and finds that the European Commission has adapted its approach since 2014 due to the experience of price increases or unfulfilled commitments with previous mergers. In recent decisions the Commission has indicated that it considers the negative effects of ‘4-to-3’ concentrations to outweigh any potential benefits. Remedies are becoming more structural, with the mobile virtual network operator model regarded as insufficient to remedy competition concerns. Parties must offer remedies which can be implemented with certainty and in a timely way, and upfront measures have been required to ensure entry of a fourth mobile network operator in the market. Efficiencies arguments have largely been rejected for not being merger-specific or unlikely to be passed on to consumers.

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