Three today announced that the European Commission has approved their acquisition of the Telefónica O2 business in Ireland, which will take Three’s market share to 37% and bring subscriber numbers to over 2m active users.

With the combined strengths of the two businesses, Three will have the scale and financial strength necessary to compete more aggressively against the number one in the market. Our ability to invest coupled with the combined subscriber base of both businesses will create new competitive dynamics in the Irish telecoms market”, said Robert Finnegan, CEO Three. “It leaves Three optimally positioned to become the number one player by providing the best value and service to our customers.

“Increasing access to high-quality high-speed networks for Irish businesses and consumers is an essential part of Ireland’s national economic recovery. This deal will enable Three to invest significantly in building a state-of-the-art 4G network, delivering very real benefits to customers in urban and rural areas throughout the country” Finnegan added.

Our focus will now turn to the legal requirements to complete the acquisition which we expect to do shortly. Until then it is business as usual for Three and O2 customers”, continued Finnegan.

HWL, Three’s parent company, has so far invested over €1.1bn in the Three Irish business. This, together with the purchase of O2 Ireland and the planned investment of €300m to build a 4G network over the next three years, will bring HWL’s total investment in Ireland to circa €2bn.

As part of the EU approval process, Three has committed to provide network capacity and MVNO services to two MVNOs in order to facilitate new MVNO entry into Ireland with the option to acquire spectrum that may be taken up by one or the other to become a network operator. Three has also committed to continue to offer Eircom Meteor its network sharing with O2 on improved terms with the merged network.