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Dec. 11, 2020, 2:43 a.m. EST

CMA to fast-track Virgin Media, O2 merger

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By Ian Walker

The U.K. Competition and Markets Authority said Friday that it has agreed to fast track its investigation into the merger of the U.K. operations of John Malone's Liberty Global PLC and Telefonica SA.

The regulator said that it made the decision after the companies requested it move quickly to an in-depth phase 2 investigation of the combination of Liberty Global's Virgin Media and Telefonica's O2 on Nov. 10.

The CMA said that it is concerned that the merger will lead to increased prices or reduced service for customers.

It said the investigation will be overseen by an inquiry group chosen from independent CMA panel members, adding that interested parties will be given the opportunity to present their views.

The companies agreed to the merger on May 7 in a deal that would create a telecom giant worth nearly $39 billion.

Write to Ian Walker at ian.walker@wsj.com

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