Wednesday 17 January 2018

Brussels will force 3 to make concessions over O2 deal

Picture shows models from left Pippa O'Connor and Lynne Kelly, with 3Store cupcakes,
Picture shows models from left Pippa O'Connor and Lynne Kelly, with 3Store cupcakes,

Foo Yun Chee

EU competition regulators will say this week that 3 Ireland's attempt to buy O2's Irish unit might be problematic unless 3 offers concessions, sources said yesterday.

Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa said last year that it would pay around $1bn (€780m) for O2 Ireland.

The European Commission opened an in-depth investigation into the Hutchison bid two months ago and will send a statement of objections laying out its concerns to Hutchison this week, the sources said.

"It shows the Commission getting tough on three to four deals," one of the people said.

"Hutchison will be offering concrete remedies once it receives the statement of objections," the person said.

The acquisition of Telefonica's mobile business in Ireland would quadruple Hutchison's share of the Irish market to 37.pc, behind market leader Vodafone's 39.4pc but ahead of rival Meteor's 19.7pc.

Commission spokesman Antoine Colombani declined to comment.

The EU watchdog has set an April 24 deadline for its decision.

It can extend the review depending on when Hutchison submits concessions. The company can request an oral hearing in front of senior Commission officials to argue its case.

Last year Hutchison's Austrian unit won EU regulatory approval for its acquisition of Orange Austria from France Telecom only after agreeing to divest some radio spectrum and making it easier for rivals to access its network. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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