CMA invites views on Vodafone/Three merger

CMA invites views on Vodafone/Three merger

Vodafone and Three potential merger concept. The  smartphones seen together with UK mobile operator logos on the screens. Stafford, United Kingdom, October 3, 2022.

The Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) is seeking views on Vodafone’s merger with rival network Three.

An announcement was posted on the official UK Government website earlier today stating that the regulator is providing an early opportunity for interested third parties to comment on the impact the merger could have on competition in the UK.

This is “in advance of launching a formal investigation once it has received the information it needs from the merging companies”.

Sarah Cardell, chief executive of the CMA said: Millions of consumers and businesses in the UK rely on Vodafone’s and Three’s mobile networks to stay connected.

“We will be carefully considering how this deal may affect competition in the UK, which could affect the options and prices available to customers. We will also assess how it may affect incentives to invest in the quality of UK mobile networks.”

She added that this is an opportunity for those with an interest in this merger to let the CMA know their views before it launches a full investigation.

The CMA says that its remit by law is to assess the potential impact of a merger on competition. It cannot consider other potential effects that a merger might have, for example, on employment or access to personal data.

The CMA is now inviting views on the impact of the deal on competition to assist with its evidence gathering ahead of launching a formal investigation. Further opportunities to submit views will be provided once the CMA begins its formal Phase 1 investigation.

The invitation to comment closes on November 1, 2023.

After the merger was announced earlier this year, Capacity gathered some early industry reaction on the merger.

“By combining our businesses, Vodafone UK and Three UK will gain the necessary scale to be able to accelerate the rollout of full 5G in the UK and expand broadband connectivity to rural communities and small businesses,” a Vodafone statement said after a deal was struck.

Analysis from Brand Finance indicated that the deal was a chance to alter falling brand value, given that Vodafone has had a “rough time over the last decade, in both the UK and elsewhere”.

Capacity will have more on this story as it develops.

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