EU to probe UAE-based e&'s acquisition of Czech PPF Group's telecoms assets, FT reports

FILE PHOTO: European Union flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels

(Reuters) -The European Commission will open a formal in-depth probe soon into Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Telecommunications' (e&) proposed acquisition of Czech PPF group's telecoms assets in Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia and Slovakia, the Financial Times reported on Saturday.

While the precise timing remains uncertain, the announcement of the investigation is expected to come as early as Monday, the FT said, citing three people with direct knowledge of the case.

The state-controlled e& had last year agreed to pay 2.2 billion euros ($2.38 billion) to acquire a controlling stake in Czech PPF Group's telecoms assets in Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia and Slovakia.

The commission is concerned the company received state funds, amounting to unfair subsidies, in order to complete the deal, the FT report said.

The report added that the commission has also questioned whether state funding could help e& outperform EU rivals.

E& and the European Union did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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(Reporting by Rishabh Jaiswal in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill and Himani Sarkar)