Three Ireland has sealed its multi-million euro takeover of O2 Ireland from Spanish group Telefónica making it the second biggest telecoms provider in the country.
Three, owned by Hutchison Whampoa, and whose €850 million buyout was cleared by the European Commission at the end of May, said it was a “big day for the Irish telecoms market”.
The combined group will have revenues of around €736 million with plans to invest around €300m in improving the network following the deal. It will have more than two million active users.
Chief executive Robert Finnegan said: “We will now get down to the task of combining the strengths and talents of the two businesses to create a major force in the Irish mobile market, which will be good for competition, good for consumers and good for Ireland.”
The combined group will have a market share of around 40 per cent challenging market leader Eircom. Vodafone Ireland is the other major network provider.
The move had attracted the opposition of communications regulator Comreg which felt that Three’s proposed competition remedies had been “insufficient, inadequate and ineffective”. Concerns were raised that fewer providers could lead to higher prices for consumers.
The European Commission made a number of conditions as part of its approval, with Three now committed to providing network capacity and mobile virtual network operator services to two new MVNOs to facilitate fresh competition across Ireland.
These two MVNOS, UPC and Carphone Warehouse, will begin offering mobile services in Ireland in 2015 and will also have the option to acquire spectrum to become a network operator.
It has also committed to allow rival provider Eircom Meteor to continue its network sharing with O2 on “improved terms”.
The takeover is the latest in a spate of takeover activity across Europe in recent weeks. Teliasonera bought Tele2 Norway for €450 million last week and Telefónica's protracted takeover of E-Plus in Germany was finally given the go-ahead by the European Commission earlier this month almost a year after it was first announced.