Australia’s competition regulator decided not to appeal a court decision approving an AUD15 billion ($9.9 billion) merger between Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) and TPG Telecom, clearing the way for the companies to take the next steps to finalise the deal.
VHA CEO Inaki Berroeta welcomed the decision, which he said will allow it to quickly progress on a merger “we believe will allow us to be a stronger player which will bring more choice and value for Australian consumers and businesses”.
Berroeta said the deal should be completed in mid-2020, subject to the remaining regulatory and shareholder approvals.
In a statement, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) acknowledged it does not have grounds for an appeal. The body opposed the proposed deal from the start, on the grounds it would likely substantially reduce competition,
In mid-February, the Federal Court of Australia ruled the tie-up would not substantially lessen competition in mobile services.
ACCC chair Rod Sims said the agency remains disappointed by the outcome, which closes the door on what “we consider was a once in a generation chance for increased competition in the highly concentrated mobile telecoms market”.
He noted the future state of competition without a merger is uncertain, “but we know competition is lost when incumbents acquire innovative new competitors”.
Separately, VHA revealed it today (5 February) switched on its first 5G sites as part of a phased rollout across Australia’s major cities in the coming months.