Eurobites: EU Sounds Warning on Merger-Mania

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Tele2 Austria goes mobile; M-Pesa mobile money transfer connects Tanzania and Kenya; UK smart meters plan faltering.

  • Is the European Commission about to get tougher on proposed telecom mergers and acquisitions? That's the scenario being raised by the Financial Times, following an interview with Europe's new antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager. "I have one interest and that is to make sure that European consumers -- that being citizens or businesses -- can enjoy relatively innovative markets at affordable prices," Vestager told the newspaper, suggesting that she suspects some of the mergers currently grinding through the regulatory mill in Europe, such as Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (Hong Kong: 0013; Pink Sheets: HUWHY)'s acquisition of Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2), could result in higher prices for consumers. (See Hutchison's Wind of Change.)

  • Tele2 Austria has added a mobile string to its bow, providing nationwide coverage for the enterprise market via an MVNO. Tele2 Austria previously offered fixed-line broadband, TV and voice.

  • Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) has extended its M-Pesa mobile money transfer and payment service to cover transactions between Tanzania and Kenya. Traditionally, the commission on money transfers between the two countries could be as high as 30%, whereas the M-Pesa commission on a $50 transfer would be around 1% of the transaction, plus a foreign exchange fee. (See Vodafone Takes M-Pesa Payments Cross-Border .)

  • The UK government's plans to have smart meters installed in every British home by 2020 are beginning to look a little ambitious, reports the BBC, as "technical, logistical and public communication issues" threaten to throw the project off the rails. A group of MPs dealing with the issue has told the government that time is running out and that, in a nutshell, they need to get a grip.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

  • Gabriel Brown 3/9/2015 | 8:37:41 AM
    Re: Shot across the bows Agreed, Germany seems to have set a 3-operator precedent. Hard too see why the UK would merit different treatment from European regulators.
    [email protected] 3/9/2015 | 8:31:57 AM
    Shot across the bows Re Euro consolidation -- This sounds like a warning siren for the dealmakers but with a few deals (in Germany, Ireland) having already set a precedent, can the EU realistically do much more than delay the deals that are likely to proliferate during the next few years?  
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