The EU General Court annuls the Commission’s decision prohibiting an oligopolistic merger between two mobile network operators in the telecommunication sector on the basis that it did not result in the creation or strengthening of a dominant position (Telefónica UK / Hutchison 3G UK)

On 28 May 2020 the General Court handed down its ruling in CK Telecoms UK Investment Ltd v European Commission (Case T-399/16) in which it annulled the EU Commission’s decision which prohibited the proposed acquisition by CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd (Hutchison) of Telefónica Europe plc (O2). The proposed transaction would have brought together two of the UK’s four mobile network operators (MNOs), Three and O2. The judgment is a landmark ruling for EU merger control with a wider significance beyond the telecommunications sector. It provides helpful guidance on the application of the significant impediment to effective competition (SIEC) test of the EU merger regulation (EUMR) and, in particular, its application to so-called “gap cases”, i.e. mergers in oligopolistic markets where the merger

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