Orange set to gain EU nod for Belgian deal, sources say

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FILE PHOTO: GSMA's 2022 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Orange is set to secure EU antitrust approval for its bid for a majority stake in Belgian peer VOO SA after the French telecoms provider signed a deal with Liberty Global's Telenet to address the regulator's concerns, people familiar with the matter said.

Acquiring VOO would give Orange control of the Belgian company's cable network in the Wallonia region in the south of Belgium and part of the Brussels area.

Orange may get the EU green light by the end of February, the people said.

The European Commission, which is scheduled to decide on the deal by April 11, and Orange declined to comment.

The EU competition enforcer had previously said it was concerned the deal would reduce the number of operators from three to two in areas covered by VOO's own fixed networks, and affect third-party mobile networks.

Orange last month agreed to provide Telenet wholesale access to VOO's network in Wallonia and in Brussels, making it a national player and rival, a move aimed at resolving EU concerns.

Rivals and customers were given until this week to provide feedback.

Orange will next test the EU antitrust regulator's stringent stand on deals that reduce the number of mobile operators with its $19 billion bid for Spanish telecoms provider MasMovil, marking a tie-up between Spain's second and fourth largest telecoms operators.

A request for EU approval could come this month although the timing could still change.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Chris Reese, Kirsten Donovan)