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Following a Phase II investigation, the European Commission has decided to grant conditional approval to the acquisition of Telefónica Ireland by Hutchison 3G Ireland (H3G). The Commission had identified a number of competition concerns in both the retail mobile telecoms market and the wholesale market for network access and call origination in Ireland.
The Commission was particularly concerned that the elimination of H3G as an independent competitive force and the resulting loss of competition between the merging parties, as well as the reduction in overall competitive pressure on the market, could reduce services and increase prices for consumers.
In order to address these concerns, H3G has agreed to divest up to 30% of the merged company's network capacity to allow entry by two mobile virtual network operators.
Further, it will also divest five blocks of spectrum from 1 January 2016 to assist longer term entry. H3G has also agreed to continue a network-sharing agreement with Eircom on improved terms to resolve concerns about the impact of the merger on the wholesale markets.