Exclusive interview: Ronan Dunne, CEO of O2 UK, argued the case for a “standalone mobile champion”, as a European Commission (EC) decision on Hutchison’s proposed £10.25 billion takeover of the company nears.
Speaking to Mobile World Live last week in Barcelona, Dunne believes a merged 3 UK and O2 UK, focused on mobile, is essential in the face of an increasing strategy of convergence in the UK, as he pointed to recent consolidation in the market with BT’s acquisition of EE, and Vodafone’s acquisition of Cable & Wireless in 2012.
“The EC is interested in ensuring consumers have real choice, and the position we have taken is, as the market around us moves towards convergence, the best way to protect consumer interests is to make sure there are standalone mobile champions that offer a best in class service.”
A provisional decision on the deal is expected by the European Commission on 22 April, after more than six months of deliberations, with regulators reportedly expected to demand major concessions to approve the merger.
Dunne suggested the situation with the commission was now out of his hands, as he put the onus on 3 UK parent Hutchison CK to continue negotiations.
“We’re not in charge of the process as the seller, and all I’m responsible for at this stage is what relates to our business.” he said. “We’re trying to focus on business as usual so the asset Hutchison is looking to acquire is in the best possible condition.”
Regarding his own future, Dunne said the previously announced agreement to step down as CEO of the combined company, should the deal go through, did not necessarily mean he would be leaving either Telefonica or Hutchison.
“There’ll be plenty of time in the summer for me to think about what I want to do,” he said. “I’m very proud of how O2 has been a good business from a shareholder, employee, customer and society point of view. So if I get an opportunity to do something that brings those elements together in the future, I’ll be delighted.”
To watch the full interview, click here.