European Union antitrust regulators will examine deals such as the proposal by Telefonica and Royal KPN to combine their German assets, based on their impact on national markets rather than the whole EU. That deal would create a new market leader, at least ranked by subscribers.
EU regulators are already examining Vodafone Group’s 7.7 billion-euro ($10.2 billion) bid for Kabel Deutschland Holding.
Somewhat ironically, in light of EC proposals to create a single EC telecom market, the deal is being scrutinized in the context of German market competition, not in the broader context of how competition would be affected at the EC-wide level.
One issue for the German mobile market is the minimum number of service providers deemed necessary to maintain adequate levels of competition and innovation.
The Telefonica merger with KPN’s E-Plus would reduce the number of providers from four to three, a situation that the European Commission obviously will consider, though so far EC regulators say there is no "magic number "of providers” that always will encounter opposition from regulators.
Eventually, EC regulators might be more concerned about market share across the EC, where today that is less a concern.