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First phase of CMA probe into proposed Vodafone and Three merger expected to begin soon

Staff Reporter
January 25, 2024

The Competition and Markets Authority wlll soon begin the first phase of its probe into the planned merger of Vodafone and Three.

Ahmed Essam, CEO of Vodafone UK?, said: “We have formally submitted our Merger Notice to the CMA, having worked with them closely through the pre-notification process.

“We look forward to continuing the constructive conversations now that the formal process has begun.? We strongly believe that the proposed merger of Vodafone and Three will significantly enhance competition by creating a combined business with more resources to invest in infrastructure to better compete with the two larger converged players.

Essam: the proposed merger of Vodafone and Three will significantly enhance competition

“Our commitment to invest £11 billion will build capacity to meet the exponential growth in demand for data and accelerate the roll out of Advanced 5G across the UK, delivering benefits to consumers and businesses throughout the nation.” ?

Robert Finnegan, CEO of Three UK and Ireland, said:

“By combining networks, Three UK and Vodafone UK will unlock £11 billion of investment that will help the UK close the 5G gap with leading European countries and realise its ambitions to be a front-runner in digital connectivity.

“ Thanks to this transaction, 95 per cent of the population and every school and hospital will be covered by standalone 5G by the end of the decade.

“Joining forces will also yield more immediate benefits. From Day One, our customers will enjoy faster, more reliable coverage over more of the country – and without paying a penny extra.?

“We are confident that this transaction will deliver significant benefits to our customers, the country and competition, and we look forward to working closely with the CMA as they review our notification.”?

Finnegan: “Joining forces will also yield more immediate benefits”

A paper on the proposed merger by Compass Lexecon found the merger of Vodafone and Three will create “a new, properly funded third infrastructure provider and help level the playing field with the larger players, while offering better network quality to consumers, business customers and MVNOs.

“As such, it will also increase competitive pressure on BT/EE and VMO2 to invest in their mobile networks, driving significant improvements for customers.?

“At least seven million customers will see improved network speeds and benefit from reduced congestion and less buffering. By 2032, more than 86 per cent of the population will benefit from ultrafast average mobile speeds that are around double what either Vodafone or Three could achieve on a standalone basis.

However trade union Unite the Union has warned of “£300 a year on consumers’ bills, the risk of thousands of jobs cuts and a serious threat to national security”

Unite has security concerns about  Three’s parent company CK Hutchison,

“The involvement of Three’s parent company, CK Hutchison, which has direct links to the Chinese state, raises significant national security concerns. If the merger goes ahead, CK Hutchison would have access to over 27 million UK customer’s accounts, as well as vital UK public contracts. The merger also threatens the UK’s mobile network operator market, reducing it from four to three players. This reduction is likely to lead to increased prices for consumers. Independent analysis indicates the merger could see bill increases of up to £300, impacting millions of UK residents, as well as putting thousands of jobs at risk.

Sarah Carpenter, executive head of operations at Unite, said: “We’re not just debating a merger; we’re challenging a threat to our national security that will result in yet more bill hikes. This campaign is about taking a stand for workers and consumers, against corporate greed and wheeler-dealing.”

Trade union Unite is opposed to the merger claiming a threat to national security

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