The Competition and Markets Authority is to ask the European Commission to take full control of the review into the merger of Liberty Global’s Virgin Media and Telefonica’s O2.
It’s likely to be the opening round in a battle as to which regulatory body has the final say over the £31 billion deal.
The Financial Times reports the UK will argue that it should take the lead because the merger is one that “solely affects UK consumers”.
Ahead of the end to the transition period on December 31st, when the UK will sever its remaining ties with the European Union, the UK can like any other nation request to take the lead on competition issues.
However, the Virgin-O2 deal is of a size where the Commission could oversee the case.
It’s not the first time that there has been a dispute over who takes the lead in a European cable transaction. Germany’s Bundeskartellamt sought to take the lead in the 2018 purchase of Unity Media by Liberty Global, but ultimately failed in its bid.
To date the Virgin-O2 transaction has not been formally notified to the Commission.