UK cable operator and MVNO, Virgin Media has urged the European Commission (EC) to approve the purchase of rival O2 by the Hong Kong group Hutchison to boost the mobile sector in the country. Last week, Hutchison in a statement said that it will open its network to competitors in response to competition concerns, as well as impose a price freeze for Three and O2 customers which in turn will provide more capacity for Virgin Media and other providers.
Commenting on the proposed merger between Three and O2 in the UK, Virgin Media Chief Executive Tom Mockridge said that "Any competition concerns can be addressed without blocking the proposed O2-Three transaction."
The Commission has previously cleared mobile mergers which resulted in a reduction in the number of mobile operators from four to three, subject to wholesale remedies. In two of these cases, Austria and Ireland, Virgin Media's parent company Liberty Global provides vigorous competition and consumer choice as a result of taking EU remedies.
“The same can be true in the UK. A combined O2-Three could have more to offer consumers and, crucially, more capacity for other providers who want to drive competition in their own right. With the right remedies, this deal could stimulate not curb competition,” said Tom.