Business

Wednesday 30 July 2014

3 Ireland finally completes acquisition of O2 for €780m

Adrian Weckler

Published 16/07/2014|00:00

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The O2 in Dublin, which may be rebranded

3 Ireland has legally completed the purchase of O2 Ireland for €780m.

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The deal, which has passed competition authority scrutiny, means that the new operator has 37pc of the Irish mobile telecoms market.

It also opens the door for a change in branding at several iconic Irish businesses, including the old Point Depot theatre, which is now known as The O2.

"This is a big day for the Irish telecoms market," said 3 Ireland''s chief executive, Robert Finnegan.

"We will now get down to the task of combining the strengths and talents of the two businesses to create a major force in the Irish mobile market, which will be good for competition, good for consumers and good for Ireland."

3 Ireland is owned by the Hong Kong based industrial conglomerate, Hutchison Whampoa, which operates ports and retailing businesses and property development firms. O2 Ireland's previous owner was Spanish-based Telefonica. Under the terms of the deal, a further €70m may be payable to Telefonica based on the achievement of unspecified "agreed financial targets".

The deal was ratified by the European Commission's competition authority based on 3 Ireland agreeing to help set up two new Irish mobile 
operators. UPC and Carphone Warehouse have both agreed to enter the market as a consequence of the deal, which grants them 15pc each of the new operator's wireless capacity to use as they see fit.

3 Ireland has spent €1.1bn on its Irish operation but has yet to make a profit. Prior to its acquisition of O2 Ireland, it had just 9pc of the Irish market, far behind Vodafone, O2 and Meteor.

A recent investor report by Moody's criticised mobile-only operators in Ireland, describing them as "vulnerable" to competitors with fixed line and mobile operations.

Vodafone, which remains Ireland's largest mobile operator, has said that it is still 
considering legal action to prevent the new merged entity from retaining what it sees as an unfair competitive advantage in the amount of 4G wireless spectrum available.

Irish Independent

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