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Hutchison Offers Concessions to Regulators for Irish Networks Merger

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Hutchison Whampoa has offered a number of concessions to European regulators as it seeks approval for a merger of its Irish mobile network with Telefonica O2's local unit.

The country currently has four mobile networks, and the merger of O2/Three would still leave the enlarged company in second place behind Vodafone. However, it would also create a significant imbalance in the market, with two companies holding nearly 40% market shares each, and small Meteor (owned by Eircom) holding less than 20 percent.

European Commission spokesman for competition policy, Antoine Colombani confirmed to the Reuters news agency that Hutchison had submitted concessions to secure the regulatory approval for the deal.

Although not specified, it is understood that the company has offered to sell some of its radio spectrum assets, and will make binding commitments to maintain an existing network sharing agreement with Meteor.

However, the EU has also extended the deadline for submissions from other parties concerned about the deal until the 19th May.

Hutchison has maintained that competition in Ireland will be better served by three credible operators with sufficient scale to compete for a total market of 4.6 million, than by the current market structure.

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Tags: three  hutchison whampoa  o2  Ireland