An Australian court approved a AU$15 billion (US$10.1 billion) merger between a unit of Britain’s Vodafone Group and internet provider TPG Telecom on Thursday, February 13, overruling a regulator and enabling a huge rival to the country’s top telcos.
A Federal Court judge said a tie-up between Vodafone’s joint venture with local telco Hutchison Telecommunications and TPG would not harm competition, rejecting the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) reason for blocking the deal last year.
The ruling revives a plan to challenge the dominance of Telstra and Singapore Telecommunications’s Optus in the Australian market by giving TPG, an internet company, and Vodafone, a mobile phone company, access to each other’s sizeable nationwide networks.
TPG had been looking for a way into the highly-anticipated 5G mobile market – where Vodafone is gearing up to compete – after halting construction of its own network due to an Australian ban on parts supplied by China’s Huawei Industries.
“This merger…gives 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 Iñaki Berroeta said on a call with analysts.