Saturday 20 January 2018

EC to decide on O2 deal by June

A construction worker speaks on a mobile handset outside an O2 mobile phone store
A construction worker speaks on a mobile handset outside an O2 mobile phone store

EUROPEAN Commission decisions on Hutchison Whampao's bid for O2 Ireland, as well as Telefonica's plan to merge its German unit with KPN's E-Plus, should come by mid-June, EU competition chief Joaquin Almunia has said.

EU competition authorities have received concessions in both deals and finished market tests for the Hutchison review, Commissioner Almunia told reporters in Marrakesh.

The EU had previously indicated that a decision on the O2 deal here would be made by the end of May. Regulators have suspended that deadline to seek more information.

3 Ireland owner Hutchison Whampoa has already offered to help set up a new mobile phone operator in Ireland in a key concession aimed at persuading authorities to clear its €780m takeover of O2 Ireland.

Under the proposed deal, 3 Ireland would give the new operator control over some of its own network and an option to acquire some of its customers.

It would also give the new operator the option of taking some of its valuable 4G spectrum, elevating the new entrant above the status of so-called piggyback operators, such as Tesco Mobile.

The most likely new operator would be UPC, which is currently discussing a new mobile operator set-up with 3 Ireland.

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