It has emerged that the man responsible for building up O2 Ireland into a major market force is the brains behind the launch of the country’s first mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), Clever Communications. Barry Maloney guided O2, then known as Digifone, to a 41% share of the Irish mobile market following the operator’s launch in 1997. Maloney has now been named Chairman of Clever Communications, which last week became the first start-up to be designated a batch of the new 089 phone numbers set aside for MVNOs. Another former Digifone executive, Niall Norton, has been installed as a director of the fledging cellco. Clever will buy minutes from the country’s existing operators and repackage them for sale under its own name; it is currently engaged in talks with the market’s biggest operators O2 and Vodafone over network sharing and interconnection, and hopes to begin negotiations with the market’s smallest operator, Meteor Mobile, shortly. Meteor, however, is not welcoming the launch of a new competitor with open arms and is worried that the new player will eat into its own market share, rather than the customer bases of the two dominant players as originally envisaged by the regulator ComReg.