The Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (MCCAA) has begun a more in-depth investigation into the proposed merger of domestic operators Vodafone Malta and Melita, which was announced in May this year. The phase-two study has been prompted by concerns from parties such as rival operator GO, which claimed that the tie-up could harm competition.
Malta Today quotes a GO spokesperson as saying: ‘The proposed takeover of Vodafone, in a critical sector such as telecommunications, is unprecedented as it reduces the number of major competitors in the market down to two. This would be, by far, the largest market concentration in Malta’s history and, unless it is properly implemented and adequate remedies and safeguards are provided for, it could have very far-reaching and long-term implications and negative outcomes for consumers and ultimately for the whole country.’
Vodafone responded in a statement by saying: ‘Vodafone Malta believes that the merger will produce an entity with the necessary scale to be able to compete with GO much more effectively than the two entities can on their own. A merger is the only means by which this can be achieved.’ If the deal is approved, the enlarged firm will be 51% owned by Melita’s shareholders, Apax Partners and Fortino Capital, while Vodafone Europe – a wholly-owned subsidiary of UK-based Vodafone Group – will hold the remaining 49%.