The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has granted conditional approval to the merger of Mobilink and Warid, ordering the pair to address a number of competition concerns. The CCP completed a comprehensive analysis of the merger to determine whether the deal would substantially lessen competition in Pakistan’s mobile sector and, whilst some of its concerns were alleviated by countervailing factors, the watchdog identified some persisting concerns in areas of spectrum concentration, infrastructure sharing and non-compete obligations. As such, the CCP imposed a number of conditions on the deal. To address spectrum concentration issues, spectrum sharing will be obligatory upon determination of inefficiently or underutilised capacity by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). The enlarged company will also be required to provide wholesale access to potential MVNOs and, concerning infrastructure sharing, Mobilink/Warid have been directed to allow current guest operators on their cell sites the first option to purchase the site either directly, or through an auction if there are several tenants. Finally, the CPP has restricted the terms and scope of the company’s non-compete obligations, and ‘a firewall has been created between Mobilink and Abu Dhabi Group’s other businesses in the telecom industry.’
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, Mobilink’s parent company Vimpelcom announced in November 2015 that it had agreed to acquire 100% of Warid’s shares, in exchange for which Abu Dhabi Group’s shareholders will take approximately 15% of the shares in Mobilink.