The CFO of Three UK said the operator has yet to formally submit its proposal for the proposed merger with O2 as the company released its financial results for the first half of the year.

Richard Woodward revealed Three had opened discussions with the European Commission and confirmed it would be Q2 2016 before the company expected to obtain approval for the merger.

But he gave little else away regarding the “complex and sensitive” topic.

He said: “The combined business will be a significantly stronger competitor than as two stand-alone businesses – not to the detriment of competition but with greater scale to drive competition in an increasingly converged communications landscape that includes companies with significant strength and depth.

“We will have more network capacity and be able to offer increased data speeds that will allow us to compete and to continue to grow.”

The CFO made the comments as Three Group Europe unveiled its financial figures for the six months to June.

Revenues increased 16 percent in local European currencies, but fell two percent to 30.6 billion Hong Kong dollars (€3.4 billion).

In the UK, sales were up 10 percent to £1.1 billion as customer numbers rose by 391,000 to 8.8 million.

Half of those are using 4G, while two million are benefitting from the operator’s Feel At Home roaming initiative.

Woodward revealed data usage of Feel At Home customers had increased to 500MB per trip, which the CFO claimed was more than their rivals’ subscribers were using in the UK.

Revenues were up eight percent in Italy, where Three announced plans to merge with Wind earlier this month.

Sales were up 11 percent in Sweden and four percent in Austria, but flat in Denmark.

Boosted by its acquisition of O2, Three Ireland saw revenues rise 245 percent.

Group earnings were up 40 percent in local currencies and 20 percent in HKD to 7.8 million (€872 million).

Three said the total number of active customers across its footprint rose two percent to 25.5 million.

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