EU regulators have rejected a a request by Britain's competition authority to examine Hutchison Whampoa's £10.3 billion bid for British mobile unit O2. The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) had said it was more qualified than the EU enforcer to scrutinize Hutchison's bid to create the biggest mobile operator in Britain by merging its Three UK unit with Telefonica's
Dianes James MEP expressed incredulity about yet another EU interference in UK affairs, “Yet again the EU has decided to push its weight around and interfere in a purely British matter. The EU has overruled the UK in the regulation of a multi-billion pound takeover of a British firm – an EU decision that could threaten hundreds of jobs.
“Given adequate competition between operators, which the UK has, this takeover would improve scale and drive prices down for consumers. Normally one would expect that a decision like this would best be made by the country affected by such a huge business transaction, and by the people who knew the market place best. In fact, that was the claim made by the UK Government.
She added, “The UK Competition and Market’s Authority (CMA) said categorically that it is more qualified than the European Union to scrutinise the bid, but this has been dismissed by the European Commission who said that it was better placed to deal with the transaction and apply merger rules in the mobile telecommunications sectors across the European Economic Area.
“This sorry state of affairs shows us how we have handed control of our economy to Brussels, and how our UK regulatory authorities like the CMA will become empty shells if we do not resist Brussels”.