Switzerland blocks Orange Sunrise merger

April 22, 2010

, ZURICH, Apr 22 – The Swiss anti-trust watchdog on Thursday rejected a bid by France Telecom\’s Orange and Danish owned telecoms firm Sunrise to merge their businesses in Switzerland.

The Competition Commission (COMCO) ruled that the merged company would have taken a dominant position in the mobile telephone market alongside top Swiss telecoms provider Swisscom, leaving the country with just two networks.

"The two companies would have achieved collective dominance, capable of suppressing effective competition," able to shut new entrants out of the market and maintain high prices, COMCO argued in a statement.

"For these reasons COMCO forbids the project of concentration," it added.

The commission said a merger might have added to the weight of Swisscom\’s main rival, but without stimulating competition, while the presence of three distinct operators helped innovation.

France Telecom and the Danish group TDC had announced the planned 1.5 billion euro merger on November 25.

The French giant would have initially held a 75 percent stake in the new operator, with an option to subsequently take over the rest.

The Swiss anti-trust regulator is currently engaged in a legal battle with Swisscom over a 333 million Swiss franc (314 million dollar, 230 million euros) fine it is seeking to impose on the telecoms giant for abusing its dominant market position on mobile phones.

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