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EU opens in-depth inquiry into Fedex's planned takeover of TNT

A FedEx delivery truck is seen in San Diego, California December 5, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Friday it had opened an in-depth investigation into Fedex's (FDX.N) proposed 4.4 billion euro ($4.9 billion) takeover of Dutch rival TNT Express (TNTE.AS).

The Commission, which oversees EU mergers and competition issues, said it had concerns that the merged entity would face insufficient competitive constraints in small package deliveries from the only two remaining players, UPS (UPS.N) and DHL, owned by Deutsche Post (DPWGn.DE).

"Many businesses, and in particular e-commerce, rely heavily on affordable and reliable small package delivery services and many consumers depend on these services to ensure rapid and safe delivery of goods they have bought," Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

Fedex and TNT Express said they were still on track to complete their proposed combination in the first half of 2016, despite the announcement of the European Commission's in-depth review.

The two said they would work to address the Commission's concerns. FedEx said it believed the deal would increase competition and create benefits for customers.

The Commission has 90 working days, until Dec. 8 , to investigate the proposed acquisition and to determine whether these initial concerns are founded.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop and Thomas Escritt; Editing by David Holmes)