Skip to main content

Vodafone Australia and TPG $15bn merger approved

Sydney Opera House by Patty Jansen / Pixabay (Image credit: Image by Patty Jansen from Pixabay )

Today the federal court cleared a $15bn merger between Vodafone Australia and TPG, declaring that it would "not substantially lessen competition" and putting no conditions in place.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) opposed the merger last year because it considered that, in the absence of the merger, TPG was likely to continue to roll out its own mobile network, becoming an innovative and competitive force in Australia’s concentrated mobile telecommunications market, which includes 5G networks.

TPG unable to build 5G network

At the point of the ACC’s opposition, TPG had already spent $1.26 billion on the spectrum needed to build a mobile network. However in January 2019 TPG founder, David Teoh, said increased costs and the government banning Huawei from supplying to Australian companies building 5G networks, made it now unviable.

"“lost a once-in-a-generation opportunity for stronger competition and cheaper mobile telecommunications services”

ACCC Chair, Rod Sims

“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,” ACCC Chair, Rod Sims said.

Federal court verdict

Despite the ACCC being successful in more than 80 per cent of the consumer and competition law cases it brings, today it was not, with federal court justice, John Middleton, saying the merger would not “substantially lessen competition” in the market.

“no real chance that TPG will roll out a retail mobile network”

Federal court justice, John Middleton

Middleton said it was “extremely unlikely and there is no real chance that TPG will roll out a retail mobile network or become an effective competitive fourth mobile network operator in Australia in the relevant future.”

5G network competition

The federal court justice also noted that Vodafone has strong competitors in Telstra and Optus. Telstra and Optus both have fixed and mobile network services and both have already rolled out 5G networks in selected areas. He said the “rational and business-like solution” is for Vodafone and TPG to merge.

Speaking after the decision had been made, Sims said Australian customers have “lost a once-in-a-generation opportunity for stronger competition and cheaper mobile telecommunications services.”

Merger set to complete this year

Subject to approvals from other regulators and shareholders, and possibly an appeal from the ACCC, Vodafone and TPG have said the merger is set to be complete by mid-2020.

Rachael is a British journalist with 17 years experience in the publishing industry. Since launching www.digitalcameraworld.com, she’s been freelancing, and working for some of the world’s best-loved websites and magazines including T3.com and TechRadar.com and has also had a book, iPad for Photographers, published. A regular contributor at 5Gradar, Rachael is following the 5G market closely. Find out more at www.rachaelsharpe.com