James Crawshaw 12/14/2017
Back in 2014 the regulatory winds were favorable in European telecoms with consolidation in both the German and Austrian markets taking the number of mobile network operators from four to three. "Market repair" was the buzzword of the day and operators were keen to see if they could achieve similar consolidation in other countries. In the UK, there were four MNOs: EE (itself a merger of Orange and T-Mobile's UK arms), O2 (part of the Telefonica Group, Vodafone and Three UK (part of Asian conglomerate CK Hutchison). With EE being snapped up by BT, Three made an audacious offer for O2 that would have created the largest mobile operator in the UK with over 40% share of mobile subscribers and a strong portfolio of spectrum. However, after a year of deliberations, in May 2016 the deal was blocked by the EU commission on competition grounds, leaving Three UK in a quandary.