Austria Postpones Wireless Spectrum Sale on Orange Deal

Austria’s auction for wireless spectrum, which will free airwaves for high-speed mobile services, will be delayed as regulators grapple with a tie-up between two of the largest providers.

Austria’s telecommunications regulator postponed an auction of radio frequencies that was scheduled for September because of the planned takeover of Orange Austria, Telekom Austria AG said in a statement today.

“A new timeline for the auction has not been announced due to the uncertainty regarding the duration of the merger proceedings,” which include a side-deal in which Telekom Austria is acquiring some of Orange’s assets, the Vienna-based company said.

Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., the telecommunications company owned by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, agreed to acquire Orange Austria in February in a deal valued at 1.3 billion euros ($1.7 billion). Hutchison plans to merge its Austrian 3 unit with Orange, making it the country’s third-biggest mobile provider after Telekom Austria and Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile Austria.

While Austria’s Federal Competition Authority has said the deal may have to be amended, Telekom Austria Chief Financial Officer Hans Tschuden said in February that he is confident that the company won’t have to make any divestitures.

The Austrian Regulatory Authority for Broadcasting and Telecommunications yesterday said in a statement on its website that it couldn’t predict how long the approval procedure for the Orange deal may take.

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