Hutchison’s takeover of O2 Ireland in doubt

Hutchison’s takeover of O2 Ireland in doubt

Hutchison Whampoa’s $1 billion bid for O2 Ireland may be ruled as anti-competitive by the EU, unless concessions are made, according to reports.

The acquisition would increase Hutchison's share of the Irish market to 37.5 %. Hutchison is openly looking for more investment in Europe, and the O2 Ireland deal was announced in June last year.

The EU is concerned that the deal, which will merge Hutchison’s subsidiary Ireland 3 with Telefonica’s o2 Ireland, will shrink competition as it reduces the number of operators in Ireland down to three.

A formal investigation into the deal opened two months ago. The findings will be released in a statement of objections which will be sent as early as this week, sources told Reuters.

The EU has until April 24 2014 to rule on the Hutchison bid. This ruling is indicative of whether the European Commission will allow deals which reduce the number of players in a national market.

The EU is also investigating the $12 billion acquisition of E-Plus by Telefónica Deutschland. The take-over would combine the two companies and create a player of similar size to the two leading operators, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone.

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