As anticipated, the European Commission on Wednesday approved the merger of Telefonica Deutschland (TD) and KPN’s E-Plus, imposing various conditions on the deal that are intended to maintain competition in a German wireless market where the number of national mobile operators is being reduced from four to three. The US$11.6 billion transaction combines E-Plus—Germany’s third-largest wireless network operator—with TD, the nation’s fourth-ranked operator that operates under the O2 name. The merged entity is expected to leap frog T-Mobile as Germany’s largest wireless carrier with more than 42 million customers that represent a 30% share of the national market. To alleviate competitive concerns, the EC is requiring the merged entity, among other things, to sell 30% of its combined network capacity to competitors and divest a portion of its spectrum-related assets to smaller rivals. (In partial fulfillment of these conditions, TD agreed last week to grant mobile virtual network operator Drillisch access to a fifth of the merged entity’s combined network capacity.) Describing these conditions as “upfront,” the EC further advised the parties that they will not be permitted to consummate the transaction until all conditions are met. EC Antitrust Commissioner Joaquin Almunia predicted that “consumers will continue to enjoy the benefits of a competitive market” as the conditions imposed on the deal “ensure that the acquisition of E-Plus will not harm competition in the German telecom market.” TD chief strategy officer Markus Haas, meanwhile, applauded the EC decision as one that “shows consolidation within Europe is possible” and that also “encourages investment in the mobile data business.” Even Deutsche Telekom, the parent of rival T-Mobile, welcomed the news as a company spokesman cited the need for “significantly more consolidation” in the European telecommunications market. Contingent upon fulfillment of merger conditions, the aim is to finalize the transaction by the end of September.