The European Commission said on Friday it had approved Finnish telecom equipment group Nokia’s planned purchase of Alcatel-Lucent because the two were not close competitors and would still face strong global competition.

“The Commission found that, despite the merged entity having combined market shares around or above 30 percent for several specific types of equipment, the overlaps between the two companies’ activities are effectively limited,” the Commission said in a statement.

It added that Nokia had a strong presence in Europe, where Alcatel-Lucent was small, with the positions reversed in North America.

Nokia announced in April an all-share deal then worth 15.6 billion euros to buys its smaller French rival, building up its telecom equipment business to compete with market leader Ericsson.

The combined group would rank behind Ericsson, but ahead of Chinese rival Huawei [HWT.UL]. China’s ZTE and Korea’s Samsung are other competitors.

(Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek)

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