EU regulators quiz mobe industry over Hong Kong group's new bid

Hutchison Whampoa tweaks offer to slurp $1bn O2 Ireland


EU competition regulators are going to the mobile ISP industry with new concessions from Hong Kong firm Hutchison Whampoa, as it seeks approval for its $1bn bid for O2 Ireland.

Sources whispered to Reuters that the conglomerate has offered the European Commission a new deal for Telefonica's Irish company after an initial proposal earlier in March didn't do enough to satisfy the EC.

Hutchison Whampoa is offering to sell radio spectrum and to continue a deal with Ireland's third-largest operator Meteor, owned by rival Eircom, to share network resources.

The Hong Kong firm already operates in the UK, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Austria and Ireland through its subsidiary 3 Group Europe – which operates Three in the UK – as well as holding telecoms interests in Hong Kong, Macau, Indonesia, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.

If it succeeds in slurping O2 Ireland, it'll reduce the number of operators in the country from four to three, with just Meteor and Vodafone as rivals, potentially reducing the amount of competition and therefore hiking prices for users. ®

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