Eircom GETS OK for Meteor takeover

The Competition Authority cleared Eircom’s €420m takeover of Meteor, the country’s third mobile phone operator. Eircom moved quickly to complete the acquisition before Christmas, returning to the fast-growing mobile phone market it left after selling Eircell to Vodafone four years ago.

As part of the Competition Authority clearance, Eircom has agreed to a number of conditions aimed at ensuring accounting transparency. Essentially these address the Authority’s concerns about possible cross-subsidisation between the fixed-line and mobile businesses.

So Eircom and Meteor have to provide telecoms watchdog ComReg with a number of independent financial statements, including details on the allocation of costs and internal transfers between Eircom’s business and Meteor. Eircom must also provide ComReg with specific accountancy statements for any future mobile phone entity established within the company if it introduces an own-brand mobile product.

Eircom is expected to use its marketing muscle to grow Meteor’s market share aggressively. Currently Meteor has 12% of the Irish mobile market, mostly prepaid. Eircom chairman Sir Anthony O’Reilly has described Meteor as “the Ryanair of the mobile sector” and it’s likely that Meteor will now go after the more profitable contract market.

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