The EU General Court annuls the Commission’s prohibition of a merger between two of the UK’s four mobile network operators after finding errors in the analysis of alleged anticompetitive effects whilst conducting its acquisition review (Telefónica UK / Hutchison 3G UK)

Firm Thought Leadership In what is destined to rank as one of the most significant judicial knockbacks of the European Commission (“Commission”) in the area of merger control for many years, the EU’s General Court (“Court”) has annulled the decision by the Commission in 2016 to prohibit the merger between two of four UK mobile network operators (“MNOs”) – CK Hutchison’s Three and Telefonica’s O2 UK. The Court’s judgment, delivered on 28 May, finds errors in how the Commission attempted to substantiate alleged anticompetitive effects of the merger and is decidedly critical of the way in which the Commission conducted its merger review. While this judgment, coming as it does almost four years after the original prohibition decision, does not enable the Hutchison/O2 merger to proceed in a

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