KPN Votes to Sell E-Plus to Telefonica

KPN shareholders approved the 8.55 billion-euro ($11.6 billion) sale of the phone company’s German business E-Plus to Telefonica, immediately creating Germany’s largest wireless carrier, measured by number of customers.

E-Plus and Telefonica’s O2 would have a customer base of 43.8 million, surpassing Vodafone’s 32.2 million and Deutsche Telekom’s 37.5 million customers in Germany.

Regulatory approval still is required and will be an early test of regulator willingness to allow further concentration of mobile and fixed network firms within each European Union country, if not cross-border consolidation on a bigger level, immediately.

Among the signs observers will be watching for is regulator willingness to allow the number of mobile service providers in each country to drop from four to three, as many regulatory authorities have been insisting that a minimum of four providers is required to sustain vigorous competition and innovation.

It probably goes without saying that many investors would prefer three, not four providers, in each national market.
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