EU approves mobile phone joint venture in Italy

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.

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."