Ireland: As EC set to clear O2 takeover, questions remain

Reports continue to surface that the European Commission is poised to approve of Hutchison Whampoa’s acquisition of O2 Ireland and could announced its clearance as early as this Wednesday, four weeks ahead of its deadline. But with that approval, questions remain about the concessions Hutchison will agree upon, and the future of Ireland’s wireless market.

According to reports, the Commission’s main concern in its merger review focused on the fact that Hutchison’s more than $1 billion buy would reduce the number of wireless competitors from four to three. But Ireland has only supported three true competitors, reports say, as Hutchison’s Ireland unit 3 Ireland was never truly profitable.

The matter was further complicated following revelations that Hutchison offered 3 Ireland’s infrastructure to create a mobile virtual network operator to quell competition concerns by the Commission. Deemed insufficient, Hutchison may soon be revealed to help create cable operator UPC into a full network operator using 3 Ireland spectrum to maintain four competitors.

But UPC reportedly is not interested in becoming a wireless operator.

Full content: Irish Times

Want more news? Subscribe to CPI’s free daily newsletter for more headlines and updates on antitrust developments around the world.