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Australia Court Overturns Regulator Decision Of Blocking $10B Vodafone-TPG Merger

Australia Court Overturns Regulator Decision Of Blocking $10B Vodafone-TPG Merger
A ruling of the Australian regulator was over ruled by an Australian court with respect top the merger of unit of Britain's Vodafone Group and internet provider TPG Telecom in a deal that is worth A$15 billion or $10.1 billion. This decision now paves the way for the creation of one of the largest entities in the telecommunication industry in Australia.
The ruling of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC), which had argued that the deal would reduce market competition, was not agreed to by the Federal Court judge, which formed the basis of the overturning of the ACCC ruling to deny the merger of Vodafone's joint venture with local telco Hutchison Telecommunications (Australia) Ltd and TPG.
This court ruling now sets the path for the creation of an entity by the merger of TPG, an internet company, and Vodafone, a mobile phone company, which will be able to challenge the dominance of Telstra Corp Ltd and Singapore Telecommunications's Optus in the Australian market. The two merging companies will have access to the customers of each other’s networks spread fairly largely throughout Australia.
Earlier, TPG had to stop construction of its own 5G network because of the ban on the parts supplied by the Chinese telecom equipment giant Huawei, but has been trying to venture into the highly-anticipated 5G mobile market in Australia. Vodafone is already preparing ot lauch its own 5G services in the country.
"This a lot more certainty that there will be a strong 5G player in the market. We have confirmation we'll have three 5G players," Vodafone Hutchison Australia CEO Inaki Berroeta said on a call with analysts.
The company was "very pleased with the Federal Court decision", said TPG founder and Executive Chairman David Teoh in a statement, and added that the deal still needs to be approved by shareholders and obtain a some other approvals from the regulator.
There was a rise of as much as 25 per cent in the stocks of Hutchison following the court ruling while there was an 11 per cent rise in the shares of TPG.  
The court’s decision was "consistent with our expectations and we'd already factored in a successful merger", said Credit Suisse analysts in a note.
The latest court ruling in the TPG-Vodafone deal was another blow for the ACCC as some of the other decisions of the regulator previously to not approve some of the largest mergers and acquisitions in Australia had been overturned by courts.
"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 Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.
The judgment was being considered by the regulator, Sims added.
A 5G network may still be built by TPG even without parts from Huawei in the eventuality of no other option before it, the ACCC had argued. The regulator had however made it clear that it would not reconsider allowing Huawei parts to be used by TPG over the company’s argument that the parts from other companies were too expensive.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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