European watchdog sets April deadline to rule on Hutchison bid
The European Commission has set a new deadline of April 24 to rule on an €850m takeover bid of Telefonica Ireland from 3's parent company, Hutchison Whampoa.
The European body is probing the deal to take over what was formerly O2 Ireland to see whether it could hamper competition here, with particular emphasis on the position of Eircom and whether new operators would have enough choice to enter the market using existing operators’ networks.
The Commission has also said that it fears the takeover might result in increased prices for mobile phone customers in Ireland.
"The Commission has concerns that the transaction would remove an important competitive force and change the merged entity's incentive to exert significant competitive pressure on the remaining competitors,” the Commission said in a statement.
"The Commission also has concerns that the transaction would reduce the merged entity's incentive to continue a network sharing agreement with Eircom, which could hamper Eircom's ability to compete effectively after the merger.”
Earlier, Hutchison acknowledged the probe and said it was working with the Commission.