MOBILE operator, 3 Ireland, has confirmed that it received a “statement of objections” from the European Commission setting concerns of the Commission in relation to Three’s proposed €700m acquisition of O2 Ireland from Telefonica.
“Three Ireland are analysing the statement and we will be responding to the Commission’s concerns,” said a spokesman for the operator.
“The issuing of a statement of objections was not unexpected in the context of a Phase 2 merger investigation and the previous statements by the Commission that it would take a close look at in-country telecoms mergers going from four to three operators,” it said.
The proposed acquisition would see 3 Ireland, which is owned by Hutchison Whampoa, increase its market share to almost 40pc. At present, the operator has around 10pc of the market.
“Three will put forward strong and effective remedies to address the Commission’s concerns,” said the spokesman. “Three will detail these and other points in our response to the Commission’s Statement of Objections, and are confident that we can convince the Commission of the pro-competitive benefits of the proposed acquisition. We will continue to work with the Commission in order to achieve a positive outcome.”
“The Irish mobile market is currently characterised by one clear dominant market leader with the three other operators lagging behind,” continued the spokesman. “Without 3’s acquisition of O2 Ireland and the scale it can achieve, this gap will only increase. Competition in Ireland will be better served by three credible operators with sufficient scale to compete for a total market of 4.6 million than by the current market structure.”
“The acquisition of O2 Ireland will provide 3 with the scale and financial strength necessary to compete aggressively in the market to the benefit of Irish consumers. It will give 3 the means to challenge the number one player in the Irish market by rolling out a state of the art 4G/LTE network and providing the best value and service to its customers.”