Hutchison, controlled by Asia's richest man, Li
Ka-shing, is looking to strengthen its position in Europe where
it operates in six countries.
Hutchison, with the fourth largest mobile network in Ireland,
will buy the country's second-largest operator O2 Ireland but
will still be behind market leader Vodafone <VOD.L>.
The European Commission said Hutchison will have to sell up to
30 percent of the merged company's network capacity to two
mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), which use the networks
of other companies to offer telecoms services.
It will also have to divest five blocks of mobile frequencies in
the 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz bands to the MVNOs at a later
stage and continue a network-sharing agreement with Ireland's
third-biggest operator, eircom.
"It is essential that healthy competition is preserved in mobile
telecoms markets. The commitments offered by Hutchison 3G ensure
that Irish consumers will continue to enjoy these benefits," EU
Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said.
Hutchison's 3 Ireland welcomed the EU clearance.
"It leaves 3 optimally positioned to become the No.1 player by
providing the best value and service to our customers," Chief
Executive Robert Finnegan said in a statement.
Reuters reported on May 16 that the deal would be cleared by the
European Commission with conditions.
(Editing by Philip Blenkinsop and David Goodman)
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