By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) -U.S. company Viasat is set to gain unconditional EU antitrust approval for its $7.3 billion bid for British satellite rival Inmarsat, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said on Thursday.
The companies, which compete with market leaders Panasonic and Intelsat in the market for wi-fi on long-haul flights, announced the tie-up in late 2021.
The European Commission’s decision could come as early as Thursday, although the timing could still change, the person said.
The EU executive, which acts as the antitrust watchdog in the 27-country European Union and is scheduled to decide on the deal by June 29, declined to comment. Viasat and Inmarsat did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Commission opened an investigation into the deal in February, voicing concerns about the companies’ status as close competitors in Europe and globally for the supply of broadband inflight connectivity (IFC) services to commercial airlines.
Viasat owns and operates four geostationary earth orbit satellites while Inmarsat has 15.
The deal has already received the green light in the UK and U.S. Federal Communications Commission.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Jan Harvey)