Irish Telecoms Merger Goes To Phase II Under EUMR

Author:Ms Helen Kelly and Nina Cummins

According to the Commission's press release its decision to move to Phase II of the European merger process was based on concerns that the transaction may reduce competition in the markets for retail mobile telephony and for wholesale access and call origination in Ireland.

Currently there are 4 mobile network operators in Ireland - Vodafone, O2, Eircom (through its subsidiary Meteor) and Three. The merger will reduce the number of mobile network operators ("MNOs") in the Irish market from 4 to 3, combining the n. 2 (O2) and n. 4 player (Three).

The Commission has voiced a concern that a reduction in number of players "would remove an important competitive force and change the merged entity's incentive to exert significant competitive pressure on the remaining competitors", Vodafone and Eircom. The Commission also expressed a concern that the transaction would reduce the merged entity's incentive to continue an existing network sharing agreement in place between O2 and Eircom, which the Commission believes could hamper Eircom's ability to compete effectively...

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