[BRUSSELS] EU antitrust regulators opened an investigation on Thursday into German utility E.ON's acquisition of Innogy as part of an asset swap with competitor RWE, saying the deal may reduce competition in Germany and other EU countries.
The European Commission said it would decide by July 23 whether to clear or block the deal. Last month E.ON Chief Executive Johannes Teyssen said the EU investigation was expected because of the size of the deal.
Innogy is a subsidiary of RWE. Under the deal, E.ON would acquire the distribution and consumer business and certain electricity generation assets of Innogy, while RWE will focus in upstream electricity generation and wholesale markets.
"European households and business customers should be able to buy electricity and gas at competitive prices," EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.
"Our in-depth investigation aims to ensure that the acquisition of Innogy by E.ON leaves sufficient competition in the market to allow for this and does not lead to price increases," she added.