CMA launches Phase 2 investigation of Vodafone–Three merger


The UK’s antitrust watchdog said the operators had declined to offer remedies to the Authority’s competition concerns

Today, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced that it will launch a Phase 2 investigation into the £15 billion merger between Vodafone UK and Three UK, a move that would shrink the number of mobile players in the market from four to three.

The regulator said last month that it was considering launching this full-blown investigation into the merger, saying that the companies had “made a number of claims about how their deal is good for competition and investment” without providing “sufficient evidence to date to back these claims”.

At the time, the CMA offered the operators five days to suggest remedies to assuage these concerns. Now, a little more than a week later, the regulator has announced the investigation will proceed, noting that both Vodafone and Three declined to propose concessions to ease the CMA’s competition fears.

In a joint statement, Vodafone and Three said that this decision by the CMA was expected and that they remained confident the merger was in the interest of UK customers.

“This was an expected next step in the process and is in line with the timeframe for completion that we set out from the outset,” said the statement. “Vodafone UK and Three UK remain confident that the transaction will drive stronger competition in the mobile sector and give customers and businesses a step-change in network quality, speed, and coverage from day one.”

Results from this new investigation are expected in September.

How would the Vodafone–Three merger impact the UK mobile market? Join the telecoms ecosystem in discussion on market dynamics at Connected North live in Manchester

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