• European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager speaks during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels on, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016. The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation a proposed telecommunications joint venture between Hutchison and VimpelCom in Italy. The approval is conditional on the divestment of sufficient assets that will allow a new operator to enter the market. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

    European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager speaks during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels on, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016. The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation a proposed telecommunications ... joint venture between Hutchison and VimpelCom in Italy. The approval is conditional on the divestment of sufficient assets that will allow a new operator to enter the market. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert) (The Associated Press)

  • European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager speaks during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels on, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016. The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation a proposed telecommunications joint venture between Hutchison and VimpelCom in Italy. The approval is conditional on the divestment of sufficient assets that will allow a new operator to enter the market. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

    European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager speaks during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels on, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016. The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation a proposed telecommunications ... joint venture between Hutchison and VimpelCom in Italy. The approval is conditional on the divestment of sufficient assets that will allow a new operator to enter the market. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert) (The Associated Press)

  • European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager speaks during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels on, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016. The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation a proposed telecommunications joint venture between Hutchison and VimpelCom in Italy. The approval is conditional on the divestment of sufficient assets that will allow a new operator to enter the market. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

    European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager speaks during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels on, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016. The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation a proposed telecommunications ... joint venture between Hutchison and VimpelCom in Italy. The approval is conditional on the divestment of sufficient assets that will allow a new operator to enter the market. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert) (The Associated Press)

EU approves mobile phone joint venture in Italy

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The European Union's executive Commission has approved a proposed mobile phone joint venture in Italy between subsidiaries of VimpelCom and Hutchison, conditional on the sale of assets that will allow a new French operator, Iliad, to enter the market as well.

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EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Thursday in a statement: "Today's decision ensures that the Italian mobile phone sector remains competitive, so that consumers can continue to enjoy innovative mobile services at fair prices and on high quality networks."

VimpelCom's subsidiary WIND and the Hutchison subsidiary, H3G, are the third and fourth largest operators in the Italian retail mobile phone market, according to EU officials.

Vestager added: "This case shows that telecom companies in Europe can grow by consolidation within the same country, provided effective competition is preserved."