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* Europe has too many telecoms players -digital commissioner
* EU competition commissioner takes harder line
* M&A spree since 2013 has redrawn European markets
By Georgina Prodhan
FRANKFURT, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Mergers among European telecoms operators are likely to continue as regulators will increasingly assess markets in a global or regional rather than a national context, the European Union’s digital economy commissioner said on Wednesday.
“I believe the consolidation process will continue - we have rather too many than too few companies in Europe,” Guenther Oettinger, EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in Frankfurt.
His comments contrast with a tougher line taken recently by EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who has recently fuelled industry fears that a wave of consolidation in the sector could come to an abrupt stop.
Vestager, who took office last year, recently scuppered a Danish deal between TeliaSonera and Telenor over concerns it would lead to higher prices for consumers.
This marked the first time such a deal had been blocked since telecoms companies began an M&A spree two years ago that has redrawn markets from Germany to Spain.
But Britain on Wednesday provisionally cleared BT’s deal to buy mobile operator EE in a 12.5 billion pound ($19 billion) tie-up that will create the country’s leading broadband, fixed-line and mobile player.
Asked about Vestager’s approach, Oettinger said: “She sets a lot of store by variety of offerings, by competition, that’s the one important factor. The other is that we need competitive companies who are big enough in the global competitive context.” (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Mark Heinrich)