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Hutchison chief blasts Ofcom boss over Three/O2 merger comments

Paul Withers
February 4, 2016

Canning Fok questions why Sharon White went public with her concerns without having first asked or heard its views on them 

CK Hutchison Group co-managing director Canning Fok has hit out at Ofcom chief executive Sharon White after she publicly aired her concerns over its proposed £10.25 billion takeover of O2.

Writing for the Financial Times earlier this week, White warned that the merger could harm competition in the UK market place, as it would reduce the number of mobile operators from four to three.

She also outlined three other major concerns: higher prices for consumers and businesses; disruption to the existing UK network arrangements between Three and EE, and Vodafone and O2; and a “shift in the balance of power” between independent retailers and the mobile operators.

However, in a letter published today outlining three clear commitments by the Group to its proposed acquisition of O2, Fok (pictured), who is also chairman of Three UK, questioned why White went public with her comments without first asking or heading its views in response to that.

“Readers in Britain must have been bemused by the blizzard of commentary and speculation earlier this week around telecoms competition in the UK,” he said.

“We might be forgiven for wondering why Sharon White, the new CEO of Britain’s telecom regulator Ofcom, felt the pressing need to go public with her conclusions about the effects of CK Hutchison’s proposed acquisition of O2 without having asked or heard our views in response to her concerns.”

Ofcom declined to comment.

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