--The European Commission has referred the merger of U.K. operations of Liberty Global and Telefonica to the U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority.
-- Deal entails joint venture combining Liberty Global's Virgin Media and Telefonica's O2.
--The CMA is targeting Feb. 1, 2021 for initial decision on deal.
By Mauro Orru
The European Commission said Thursday that it has referred a proposed merger of the U.K. operations of John Malone's Liberty Global PLC and Telefonica SA to Britain's Competition and Markets Authority.
The decision comes after a request from the CMA for the referral of the proposed deal, which would combine Liberty Global's Virgin Media and Telefonica's O2, creating a telecoms giant worth nearly $39 billion.
The Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, said the referral would enable the CMA to deal with the case under U.K. national law as the country's transition period with the European Union comes to an end at the end of December.
"The CMA claimed that it would be well placed to review the transaction in view of the upcoming expiry of the transition period," the Commission said.
Evidence showed the proposed transaction posed a threat to competition in the U.K. telecommunications sector, where both companies are big market players, according the European Commission.
The CMA, which is targeting Feb. 1 for an initial decision on the deal, previously warned of competition concerns in the markets for retail, wholesale mobile services and the market for leased lines in the U.K.
Write to Mauro Orru at email@example.com; @MauroOrru94
(END) Dow Jones Newswires