The Chairman of Three UK has launched an astonishing attack on the CEO of Ofcom as he unveiled a series of measures designed to help its acquisition of O2 get regulatory clearance.
In a strongly worded statement, Canning Fok, Co-Managing Director of CK Hutchison Holdings, the parent company that owns Three, said Sharon While had not consulted him about the deal.
He also called Vodafone a "top of the heap predator" and suggested UK wholesalers played “tricks” on their customers.
The European Commission is currently conducting an indepth review of £10 billion merger between Three and O2, and is expected to make a decision next month.
Fok said the newly combined business would not raise the price of a voice minute, a text or a megabyte in the five years following the merger.
Further, he said £5 billion would be invested over the next five years, which he claimed was “at least” 20 percent more than would have been invested by the two companies on their own.
Finally, Fok promised to sell parts of its network to “meaningful competitors” in what he termed a “fractional shared ownership” model.
In a thinly veiled dig at BT, he claimed this would “eliminate the tricks some wholesalers use to disadvantage their wholesale customers”.
Vodafone also came in for criticism, with Fok calling them an “old top-of-the-heap predator”.
But he reserved his harshest words for Sharon White, the Ofcom CEO, who raised her concerns about the deal in a letter to the Financial Times earlier this week.
Fok 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 for or heard our views in response to her concerns.”
Ofcom declined to comment on whether any meetings or discussions had taken place.
According to Fok, the merger of Three and O2 was “the only way” to guarantee that customers will still be getting more and paying less for mobile services.
CCS Insight Analyst Kester Mann said the proposed measures were unlikely to appease the Europan Commission’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager.
“More likely, CK Hutchison will need to facilitate the entrance of a new player to retain the status quo of four national network providers,” Mann said.
“As such, its pledge around selling slices of network capacity will be the most heavily scrutinised.
“[CKH] will likely be prepared to go to significant lengths to make the deal happen as backtracking would leave Three in a vulnerable position as a sub-scale mobile operator in a market rapidly transitioning to multiplay.”