Nordic telecom rivals scrap plan to merge business in Denmark

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Nordic telecommunications group TeliaSonera and Norwegian rival Telenor said on Friday they had shelved plans to merge their Danish operations having failed to agree on “acceptable conditions” with the European Commission.

The merger plan was unveiled in December, and the joint venture would have had about 40 per cent of the market.

The European Commission confirmed it had not been able to reach agreement with the companies over its competition concerns.

“EU merger control has to make sure that company tie-ups do not lead to reduced innovation, higher prices or reduced choice for consumers” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

Vestager, a former Danish cabinet member, added that a Commission assessment concluded that in order to secure “significant competition” it would have been necessary to create a fourth mobile network operator.

“What the parties offered was not sufficient to avoid harm to competition in Danish mobile markets,” she said.

In a joint statement, the two firms said “merger discussions have now reached a point where it is no longer possible to gain approval for the proposed transaction.”

“TeliaSonera and Telenor will continue to compete and deliver products and services in the Danish market through our respective original, and still fully up-and-running Danish operations,” said Kjell Morten Johnsen head of Telenor’s European region.

Based on their businesses at the end of 2014, the joint venture would have about 3.5 million mobile subscriptions.

The two groups have since 2012 cooperated in Denmark through a joint mobile network.

TeliaSonera was formed by the merger in 2002 of Sweden’s Telia and Finland’s Sonera.

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