Three Ireland CEO Finnegan crosses the water to add Three UK to his role

Dave Dyson Three UK.jpg

CK Hutchison’s Three Group is set to combine UK and Ireland with Robert Finnegan, CEO of the Irish company, also appointed CEO of Three UK.

The move – provoked by the decision of Dave Dyson (pictured), CEO of the UK company, to step down – stops short of a merger of the UK and Irish operations, but Hutch clearly hints that it is heading that way.

“One of CK Hutchison Group Telecom’s core objectives has been to move progressively towards a greater alignment of Three Group Europe’s businesses and platforms,” the company said this morning. “With the merger between Three and O2 in Ireland nearly completed, and the opportunity to appoint a new CEO of Three UK, now is the time to take the next step towards greater alignment.”

It’s nearly four years since the European Commission blocked Three UK’s plan to buy O2 UK from Telefónica for £10.3 billion. Now that the UK has left the EU and, with the formal separation expected to be completed in December, the stage is set for another attempt.

Telefónica wanted to sell O2 UK to Three UK, and CK Hutchison threatened an appeal against the Commission’s decision, taken by competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

The 2015 merger of the Irish businesses, for €780 million, was completed without opposition, though later research said the reduction of the market from four to three operators pushed prices up.

Finnegan has led Three Ireland since the company started in 2005 and is clearly regarded highly by Hutch: he previously worked for the group in Hong Kong for a period of 13 years.

“With the integration of the Three and O2 business in Ireland largely complete, we now have a solid platform to look at the next phase of our development,” he said. “Collaborating more and progressively aligning operations and platforms with Three UK is an obvious opportunity and I am excited to be taking on this challenge as the CEO of both operations.”

Dyson has not split from Hutch: he will continue to serve in all his current board roles and as a senior executive resource to Three’s parent company.

“Three UK is very well positioned to grow in the market after a period of investment in 5G spectrum and more modern IT systems and processes,” said Dyson. “Robert joins at an exciting time in our history and the combined assets of the UK and Ireland businesses are a fantastic platform to deliver against customer demand.”

Hutch has not announced any further management changes to bring together the UK and Irish operations.