(Bloomberg) — Britain’s deals watchdog said it’s “only right” that it gets to review a tie-up between Liberty Global Plc and Telefonica SA in the nation, setting up a regulatory tussle with the European Union as the U.K. and EU leaders clash over their future relationship.
The Competition and Markets Authority asked the European Commission to transfer a probe into Liberty Global’s plan to merge its Virgin Media unit with Telefonica’s O2 in the U.K. The EU’s competition regulator, which normally clings on tightly to investigations of telecom deals, acknowledged the request, pushing back its deadline to rule on the deal until Nov. 19
“As the merger will only impact U.K. consumers — and any effects would only be felt after the end of the transition period — it is only right for the CMA to request it back,” CMA Chief Executive Officer Andrea Coscelli said in an emailed statement on Thursday.
Liberty Global sought European Commission approval for the transaction last week. EU regulators can transfer a review to smaller national authorities if they think they are best placed to make a decision. The EU has rarely handed back mobile-phone deals and has often taken a harsh line on telecoms consolidation. Although Britain quit the EU earlier this year, EU law still applies and large deals are handled by the Brussels-based authority during a transition period until