European Commission objects to Three’s proposed €850m O2 Ireland acquisition

3 Feb 2014

Three Ireland is examining a statement of objections issued by the European Commission outlining its concerns about Three Ireland’s proposed acquisition of O2 Ireland for €850m.

In June, O2 Ireland’s parent company Telefónica agreed to sell its O2 subsidiary in Ireland to Three’s owner Hutchison Whampoa for €850m.

The acquisition has to be approved by the European Commission before it goes ahead.

However, today the European Commission issued Three Ireland with a statement of objections.

Three said it will analyse the statement and will be responding to the Commission’s concerns.

The Commission previously said it would take a close look at in-country telecoms mergers going from four to three mobile operators.

Three said competition in Ireland will be better served by three credible operators with sufficient scale to compete in a total market of 4.6m people.

“The Irish mobile market is currently characterised by one clear dominant market leader with the three other operators lagging behind. Without Three’s acquisition of O2 Ireland and the scale it can achieve, this gap will only increase.”

Three said the acquisition will increase competition and bring much-needed investment.

The company said it will put forward “strong and effective” remedies to address the European Commission’s concerns.

It added it is confident it can convince the Commission of the “pro-competitive” benefits of its acquisition of O2 Ireland.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years