AOL UK takeover gets European clearance

The European Commission has officially cleared mobile phone and broadband retailerCarphone Warehouse's acquisition of the UK internet access business of AOL.

Under the terms of the EU Merger Regulation, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it. AOL UK has 2.1 million customers across the country - 600,000 on dial-up and 1.5m with broadband connections.

The Commission's examination of the proposed transaction showed that in those areas where the two companies activities currently overlap, namely Internet access services and fixed-line telephony services, their combined share of either market would not 'give rise to competition concerns as the new firm would continue to face effective competitive pressure from other market participants'.

Carphone Warehouse announced its 370m bid for AOL's UK access business in October. The EC's approval means its will have around two million broadband users, making it the third largest in the country behind BT and NTL Telewest.