UK Launches Antitrust Probe into $19 Bilion Vodafone-Three UK Merger
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has initiated a formal investigation into the planned $19 billion merger of Vodafone and CK Hutchison's Three UK. The CMA has a 40-working-day period for the initial Phase 1 examination to determine if the deal could result in a significant reduction of competition. If deemed necessary, a more comprehensive Phase 2 investigation may follow to assess potential impacts on competition.
The proposed merger between two major players in the U.K. telecommunications market, crucial for millions of consumers, businesses, and the economy, is under scrutiny by the CMA. The Chief Executive, Sarah Cardell, emphasized the need to assess the potential impact on competition before determining the next steps. Public opinions on the competition effects of the merger are invited until February 9, and the statutory deadline for the investigation's conclusion is March 22.
If the CMA identifies a significant risk to competition, it can proceed to a more detailed Phase 2 merger investigation, which typically lasts between 24 and 32 weeks and is overseen by an independent panel of experts. In June of the previous year, Vodafone and CK Hutchison finalized binding agreements to merge Vodafone UK and Three UK, with a 51% stake held by the former and 49% by CK Hutchison.