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EU likely to open probe into Hutchison, Telefonica deal: sources

The logo of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd is displayed at one of the company's office towers in Hong Kong August 1, 2013. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
The logo of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd is displayed at one of the company's office towers in Hong Kong August 1, 2013. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators are set to open a lengthy investigation into Hutchison Whampoa's bid for Telefonica's Irish unit unless Hutchison offers concessions to sooth competition concerns, two people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa, controlled by Asia's richest man Li Ka Shing, announced the 780-million-euro ($1.07 billion) offer for Telefonica's 02 Ireland unit in June, its latest deal to build up a presence in Europe.

The European Commission, which is now taking a preliminary look into the deal, expressed concerns about the deal to Hutchison officials at a meeting on Tuesday, the sources said.

"Concerns were expressed at the state of play meeting," one of the people said.

Hutchison has until November 6 to offer concessions. Failure to do so will trigger an in-depth investigation that could take up to five months.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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