UK reportedly gets to rule on Virgin/O2 merger

O2 VM merger

Somewhat surprisingly it looks like the European Union is going to do the right thing and stay out of a merger between two UK companies.

Normally the European Commission, or one of the countless other state appendages that sprout from the EU blob, would be all over something like the proposed merger between O2 UK and Virgin Media UK. But as you may have heard, the UK will no longer be part of the EU from the start of next year, so it won’t be the concern of the EU what our companies get up to.

That’s the theory, anyway, but in practice the EU wants to attach all sorts of conditions to the privilege of letting us do business with its member states and has shown itself very reluctant to return our sovereignty. So it comes as a pleasant surprise to see common sense momentarily superseding all the political posturing.

Reuters reports that the UK Competition and Markets Authority will be handed the baton on this matter after all, citing someone they chatted to who reckons they know a thing or two. The CMA asked for this to happen a month or so ago, so that’s a fairly rapid turnaround by EU standards. There hasn’t been an official confirmation yet, however, and Reuters source could be wrong.

Assuming they’re not, this is clearly the correct course of action. Even if the EU hadn’t made this concession, presumably it would have just been a matter of waiting until the new year, at which point its jurisdiction expires anyway. Since VM is a fixed-line player and O2 is mobile, there should be little grounds for objection to this merger, especially in a country that allowed BT to buy EE. Hopefully the CMA will turn this around quickly so they can get on with enjoying synergies and that sort of thing.


  1. Avatar Paul Rushton 17/11/2020 @ 10:36 pm

    Seems very pro Brexit . Not really analysis but a rant. Ignores the.keg issues to make political points. Sad.

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 18/11/2020 @ 8:57 am

      The keg issues are too painful for me to address.

  2. Avatar Guillaume 18/11/2020 @ 12:49 pm

    and the key ones ?

    Because you probably are aware that Brexit is going to be an economical nightmare, during a pandemic economical nightmare.

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 18/11/2020 @ 1:29 pm

      Whatever you say, boss.

  3. Avatar Joachim Fleury 18/11/2020 @ 2:24 pm

    I agree this is a very narrow minded pro Brexit way to look at this – and it is not necessarily in the interest of market parties (e.g. Telefónica and LGI in this case) for every country to develop its own diverging criteria to judge in-market consolidation. That, not a wish to meddle in domestic affairs of proud sovereign former imperial powers, has been the reasoning behind having the European Commission decide in all these transactions.

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 18/11/2020 @ 2:30 pm

      Sure, and now they can’t.

  4. Avatar Nigel F. 18/11/2020 @ 4:42 pm

    Brexit is going to happen. So why still rant about it. Maybe you should find a rock,and crawl back under it

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 18/11/2020 @ 4:45 pm

      And miss out on all this great banter? Never.

  5. Avatar Micheal Smith 18/11/2020 @ 9:13 pm

    Just another useless rant about Pro Brexit. You forgot we can now have free roaming because of the EU!

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 19/11/2020 @ 11:39 am

      Did I?

  6. Avatar M Robinson 19/11/2020 @ 7:32 am

    “two UK companies”

    Telefonica, which owns O2, is a Spanish company. Liberty Global, which owns Virgin Media, is American.

    Did you even know that? It doesn’t seem like facts are really your thing. Strange for a “journalist”

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 19/11/2020 @ 9:04 am

      Which countries other than the UK does the merger affect?

  7. Avatar Paul Arnold 19/11/2020 @ 10:57 am

    Wow sense the Anti EU oozing between the lines.

    Then the dismissive comments back to anyone challenging Brexit but I see this whenever you challenge it. They usual return rant is to quote “project Fear”…. its soon to be “project here”

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 19/11/2020 @ 11:01 am

      project fear

  8. Avatar Jim 19/11/2020 @ 3:42 pm

    Great so now we have our “sovereignty” back, the decision to allow this merger will be down to whether one of Boris’ mates are due to profit from it, rather than a fair economical assessment.

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 19/11/2020 @ 3:45 pm

      nice scare quotes

  9. Avatar Agg 19/11/2020 @ 4:44 pm

    Very pro-brexit article, where is the content relatednto the merge? you should feel ashamed if you call yourself a journalist…

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 19/11/2020 @ 4:48 pm

      It’s funny how many people can be bothered to comment, but not to do so coherently or even intelligibly.

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