BRUSSELS, July 27 (Reuters) - French telecoms provider
Orange's bid for a majority stake in Belgian peer VOO
SA will face a full-scale investigation by EU antitrust
regulators, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday,
which Orange subsequently confirmed.
The planned acquisition of 75% of VOO valuing the company at
1.8 billion euros ($1.82 billion) and announced in November
underscores Orange's strategy of offering "onvergent offers" in
both broadband and mobile to customers in all European
In recent years the telecoms sector has seen operators
embark on packages encompassing both broadband and mobile to
entice users and grab market share.
The European Commission's preliminary scrutiny of the deal
ends on Thursday, which will immediately trigger a four-month
investigation because Orange did not provide concessions to
address its concerns, the person said.
Orange said: "The opening of this phase is a new step during
which we will have the time and the opportunity to demonstrate
to the Commission that this transaction is beneficial for the
sector and will make it possible to sustainably strengthen
competition throughout Belgium."
The Commission declined to comment.
The VOO deal would give Orange control over the cable
network in Belgium's French-speaking Wallonia region and part of
the Brussels area, pitting it against rival Telenet.
The French company's Belgian unit Orange Belgium
owns its cellular network, but has costly contracts with rivals
in order to offer broadband services on top of mobile contracts.
($1 = 0.9866 euros)
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Additional reporting by Mathieu
Rosemain in Paris; Editing by Jan Harvey and Marguerita Choy)