A proposed merger between TPG Telecom and Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) has been given the green light by Australia’s Federal Court, which has said it does not believe the tie-up will substantially lessen competition.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in May 2019 VHA confirmed that – along with TPG Telecom – it intended to launch legal action in the Federal Court following the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC’s) decision to oppose their proposed merger that month on competition grounds. Now, in response to the court’s decision, the regulator has reiterated its stance on the matter, with ACCC chairman Rod Sims cited stating: ‘We stand by our decision to oppose this merger.’ Further, the executive added: ‘Australian consumers have lost a once-in-a-generation opportunity for stronger competition and cheaper mobile telecommunications services with this merger now allowed to proceed … The ACCC’s concern was that with this merger, mobile data prices will be higher than they would be otherwise. These concerns were reinforced by statements from the industry welcoming the merger and the consequent ‘rational’ pricing.’
The ACCC now has a month to appeal the Federal Court’s decision, and in the meantime has said it is ‘carefully considering the judgment’.