BRUSSELS, May 28 (Reuters) - European Union antitrust regulators on Wednesday cleared Hutchison Whampoa’s $1 billion bid for Telefonica’s Irish unit after the Hong Kong-based group agreed measures to aid smaller competitors in Ireland.
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 .
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), third parties which offer services through the networks of competitors.
It will also have to divest five blocks of spectrum 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. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)