France’s Groupe Iliad hopes to enter the Italian mobile market after agreeing a “remedy package” to acquire assets from Three and Wind, creating a fourth player in the country.
The Hutchison and VimpelCom subsidiaries announced plans for a €21.8 million merger in August 2015.
However, citing competition concerns, the European Commission opened an in-depth investigation into the proposed deal earlier this year.
In a bid to allay these fears, Hutchison and VimpelCom have signed a deal with Iliad that sees the French operator acquire a number of their assets.
Specifically, Free Mobile owner Iliad will spend €450 million on 2x35MHz 3G/4G frequencies and “several thousand” macro sites for an undisclosed fee.
It has also agreed to bring into force a RAN-sharing agreement with Three and Wind that covers rural areas, or alternatively, to acquire “several thousand” macro sites in those areas.
Finally, a roaming agreement covering 2G, 3G and 4G on the merged network will be put in place for a minimum of five years.
Should the merger get approval, Iliad would compete with a combined Three/Wind, Vodafone and market leader TIM.
Iliad noted that its founder Xavier Niel would dispose of the “marginal” financial interest he holds in TIM.
The company said this equated to less than €25 million.
However, the Commission is by no means guaranteed to let the deal go ahead.
It blocked a merger between Three and O2 in the UK in May despite a number of concessions being made.
Last year it forced Telenor and Telia to abandon a joint venture in Denmark.
Competition chief Margrethe Vestager is due to rule on the merger by 8 September.
Iliad has had a profound impact in France since launching mobile services in 2012.
It had 1.9 million customers as of the end of March with a market share in excess of 17 percent.