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UPDATE 1-EU wants more Hutchison concessions for Orange Austria

Monday, 8 Oct 2012 | 11:52 AM ET

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BRUSSELS, Oct 8 (Reuters) - The EU's antitrust chief said on Monday Hutchison 3G would have to offer sufficient concessions to ease regulatory concerns and allow clearance of its bid for France Telecom's Orange Austria.

The European Commission, which oversees EU competition policy, has expressed concerns that the planned 1.3 billion euro ($1.7 billion) deal would eliminate one of Austria's four main telecoms providers.

"We have formally raised objections regarding this proposed merger because of risks that higher concentration in Austria might entail," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told EU lawmakers. "I hope we will receive adequate remedies to eliminate our concerns in this merger."

Almunia had last week questioned whether Hutchison 3G could offer adequate remedies, signaling a possible veto.

Hutchison executives will make the case for the deal at a private hearing with EU and national officials on Wednesday, a source familiar with the matter said.

Hutchison, a unit of Hutchison Whampoa , which is controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, has offered to open its network to rivals at cost price, but EU regulators want more concessions before allowing the merger of Austria's third and fourth largest operators.

Telekom Austria is the biggest player followed by Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile. ($1 = 0.7657 euros)

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; writing by Charlie Dunmore; Editing by Sebastian Moffett and Philip Blenkinsop)

((foo.yunchee@thomsonreuters.com)(+32 2 287 6844)(Reuters Messaging: foo.yunchee.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: HUTCHISON ORANGEAUSTRIA/EU