UK government conditionally approves £15bn Vodafone–Three merger 


The merger is under ongoing investigation from the Competition and Markets Authority 

The UK government has this week released a “Publication of notice of Final Order” that provisionally approves the Vodafone–Three merger, subject to certain conditions. 

Following a “detailed national security assessment”, the cabinet office has approved the merger, providing that: 

– A National Security Committee is set up within the merged company to oversee any sensitive information that the company deals with that is related to the national security of the UK. It will be necessary for the company to provide regular updates to the government; 

– Within this group, a specific technical group is established that will deal with a specific list of topics (such as cyber, physical, and personnel security); 

– The MergeCo’s network migration planning is subject to review by a government approved external auditor;  

– The MergeCo will have specified arrangements for its governance. 

The government said in this statement that the above measures will mitigate national security risks in relation to UK networks and data “resulting from the merging of two large, complex organisations and their respective staffing, policies, processes and networks.” The government also says these measures will eliminate risks in relation to Vodafone’s role as a supplier of services to the government. 

“We strongly believe (the merger) will strengthen competition in the UK’s mobile sector and enable a significant step-up in the UK’s mobile network infrastructure,” said the two companies in a joint statement. 

The investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is separate and still ongoing. The investigation began its second phase last month, with results expected by September. 

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