The European Commission (EC) has launched an investigation into the planned merger of BT and MCI. The $20 billion deal is already under scrutiny by antitrust authorities in the UK and US.
Investigations into pacts between telecoms operators are almost standard practice, but a probe into one of the world's biggest corporate marriages is likely to be involved and complex. The respective authorities may ask for concessions before giving the go-ahead, suggest industry analysts, although a total block on the merger is not anticipated.
Adrian May, a telecoms analyst at Ovum, said: 'Compared with the US investigators, the EC may not have so much to argue about. The UK is one of the most liberated of telecoms markets, though BT still has an 80 per cent share.
'For the US, it is concerned that its second largest telecoms operator is being taken over by a foreign company.'
The EC is expected to make a decision within a month or extend the investigations by four months. Investigations in the US could take up to a year.
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