Commerce Commission green-lights Infratil plan to buy Vodafone NZ

Commerce Commission green-lights Infratil plan to buy Vodafone NZ

Go-ahead given after regulator finds little threat to competition

$3.4 billion buyout passes first regulatory hurdle.

$3.4 billion buyout passes first regulatory hurdle.

The Commerce Commission has granted clearance for NZX-listed Infratil to acquire up to 50 per cent of the shares in Vodafone New Zealand.

Infratil already holds a 51 per cent share of Trustpower, which also sells telecommunications services. However, the comapny submitted that Vodafone and Trustpower would continue to operate as independent companies.

While the Commission accepts this is likely, it said analysis of the proposed acquisition was based on the "conservative assumption" that the businesses of Trustpower and Vodafone could be combined.

Vodafone and Canadian investor Brookfield announced their intention to bu the telco for $3.4 million in May.

The Commission then focused on the possible impact of the proposed acquisition in the national markets for the retail supply of broadband and mobile services.

Comcom chair Anna Rawlings said the Commission was satisfied Infratil’s proposed shareholding in both Vodafone and Trustpower would not substantially lessen competition in any of the markets it assessed.

“While Trustpower has in the past been an aggressive competitor in residential broadband, with a particular focus on energy and broadband bundles, several other multi-utility providers have similarly emerged including Vocus, Nova Energy and Contact Energy," she said.

2Degrees and Stuff are also competing effectively in the residential broadband market alongside Spark and MyRepublic, she said.

“As it stands, Vodafone and Trustpower are not each other’s closest competitors and even in regions where they would hold high market shares, such as Bay of Plenty and Wellington, they will continue to face effective competition from several other national operators."

Competition in mobile markets was generally driven by the three network operators and was therefore unlikely to be affected by Infratil’s acquisition.

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