ACCC approves 3/Vodafone merger

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The consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, has announced that it will not oppose the proposed merger between Vodafone’s Australian operations and Hutchison Telecom Australia to create a 50/50 joint venture company.

The new company, Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA), is now cleared to finalise their merger after being cleared to merge by the Foreign Investment Board and the European Commission.

“Ongoing investments are needed to meet the increased customer demand for bandwidth-hungry data services, including mobile broadband. In this respect, the ACCC considers that mobile voice and data services will continue to converge in the future,” Chairman for the ACC, Graeme Samuel said.

The ACCC has said in a statement that it investigated a substantial of internal documents from the merger parties and their competitors. The ACCC has concluded that it would not lessen the competition in the market, after fears that it would do so, especially after both have network sharing deals – 3 with Telstra and Vodafone with Optus.

Both parties are happy with the response.

“The ACCC’s decision confirms our view that this merger will be good news for Australian customers. VHA will be a stronger mobile company, more competitive and more capable of providing an even better deal for customers,” Nick Read, the CEO of Vodafone Asia Pacific & Middle East Region, and the proposed chairman for VHA, said in a statement.

“Our first priority is to retain the best elements of both independent brands. The next step is to apply the combined scale and resources of VHA to deliver real benefits to all customers,” Nigel Dews, CEO of Hutchison Telecom Australia and proposed CEO for VHA, said.

The new company will retail the products and services under Vodafone and 3 for two years, including network arrangements, caps and plans, retail stores and customer service.

The merger is said to finalise within the next two weeks.