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Vodafone to win EU approval for $9.8 billion Ono deal: sources

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[June 26, 2014]  By Foo Yun Chee and Kate Holton

BRUSSELS/LONDON (Reuters) - Vodafone is set to gain unconditional EU approval for its 7.2-billion-euro ($9.79 billion) bid for Spain's largest cable operator Ono as regulators do not have competition concerns, three people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The deal is part of a wave of consolidation in the telecoms industry and is the British firm's third acquisition of a European fixed-broadband asset in two years.

Telecoms providers say more mergers are necessary to offset falling revenues and to secure the funds to upgrade infrastructure for fast-speed broadband.

Buying Ono will enable Vodafone to better compete with Spanish market leader Telefonica. Vodafone's 25 percent share of the Spanish mobile market is expected to increase by almost two percentage points after the deal.

The people said the European Commission has not demanded concessions from Vodafone, the world's second-largest mobile operator.

"There are no issues, the deal will be cleared by the European Commission without conditions," said one of the people, who declined to be named because the Commission's decision is not public yet. The other two sources said they have the same expectations.

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A Commission official and Vodafone declined to comment. The EU antitrust watchdog has set a July 2 deadline for its decision.

($1 = 0.7355 Euros)

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee and Kate Holton; editing by Barbara Lewis and Louise Heavens)

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