Saturday 29 November 2014

Mobile phone operator Three given green light for €780m takeover of O2 Ireland

O2 Ireland now owned by Spain's Telefonica, EU watchdog approves takeover

Published 28/05/2014 | 11:18

Repro Free:  Picture Jason Clarke Photography
Repro Free: Picture Jason Clarke Photography

Mobile phone operator Three has welcomed a decision by the European Commission to approve its takeover of Telefonica's O2 business here.

Three has received the green light from the European Commission to buy O2 Ireland.

Announcing its approval for the takeover, the Commission said that it was conditional on 3 Ireland facilitating two new mobile competitors into the Irish market, with one of them given the option to become an equal player with its own wireless infrastructure.

Three, which is owned by Hutchison Whampoa, is now expected to push ahead with a separate deal with UPC that will see the cable broadband operator launch a new mobile service on 3’s network.

It will also be required to dedicate 30pc of the merged company’s network capacity to the new operators.

The deal is also conditional on Three offering improved terms to Meteor on network-sharing, which will speed up Meteor’s 4G roll out.

The deal will take Three’s market share to 37pc and bring subscriber numbers to over 2m active users. The two companies had combined revenues of €736m in 2013, which compares to 3’s revenue of €180m in 2013 on a standalone basis.

It will also mean that O2 assets, such as branding for the Point Depot theatre, will now revert to 3.

Three’s chief executive, Robert Finnegan, welcomed the decision.

“With the combined strengths of the two businesses, 3 will have the scale and financial strength necessary to compete more aggressively against the number one in the market. Our ability to invest coupled with the combined subscriber base of both businesses will create new competitive dynamics in the Irish telecoms market,” he said. “It leaves 3 optimally positioned to become the number one player by providing the best value and service to our customers.”

Finnegan said that Hutchison Whampoa has so far invested over €1.1bn in its Irish business and that it planned to invest €300m over the next three years in a new 4G network.

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