Telefonica wins approval for Irish sale; German ruling on tap

Following concessions, the EU has approved the $1B sale of Telefonica's (TEF -0.1%) O2 Ireland unit to Hutchison Whampoa, which stands to lower the number of Irish mobile networks in operation to 3.

The EU's approval is contingent on Hutchison selling up to a 30% stake in the merged mobile unit to two MVNOs. Sources tell Reuters Liberty Global (LBTYA +0.2%) is in talks with Hutchison for an Irish MVNO deal.

Hutchison will also have divest 5 blocks of spectrum, and continue a network-sharing deal with rival eircom.

The EU's approval could be a sign regulators are willing to approve Telefonica's $12B deal to buy KPN's (KKPNY) E-Plus German unit. Telefonica has already offered concessions to placate worried regulators and MVNOs; a ruling is expected by June 23.

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