Three Ireland submits concessions to the EU over O2 takeover

25 March 2014 | Sophie Donoghue


Hutchison Whampoa’s subsidiary Three Ireland has submitted concessions to address the European Commission’s concerns regarding its $1 billion bid for O2 Ireland.

The operator has not provided details of the proposed revised offer. However, according to reports, one term offered includes setting up a new MVNO.

Under the proposed deal, Three Ireland would give the new operator control over some of its own network, plus an option to acquire some of the merged company’s radio spectrum and customer base.

The operator has also reportedly said it will continue a network-sharing agreement with rival Eircom’s subsidiary, Meteor. The European Commission had expressed fears that such an agreement might be abandoned if Three acquires O2 Ireland.

Three Ireland received a “statement of objections” from the European Commission about its acquisition of Telefónica’s O2 Ireland in February this year.

The EU was concerned that the deal – which will merge the two companies – will shrink competition, as it reduces the number of operators in Ireland down to three.

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. A takeover would combine the two companies and create a player of similar size to the two leading operators, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone.