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Vodafone and Melita call off merger

Say unable to overcome competition concerns

Updated December 9, 9.30am - Added MCCAA statement

Melita and Vodaf1one have called off plans for a merger, saying that they were unable to meet the conditons stipulated by the competition authority.

The merger intention was first announced in May 2017, when the Vodafone Group Plc, Apax Partners Midmarket SAS and Fortino Capital said they wanted to create a fully integrated communications company in Malta.

Read: Telecoms that enable people - Harald Roesch

However, the merger was immediately criticised by competitor GO and raised the ire of various consumers who said that it would restrict competition.

Read: GO chief executive warns against Melita, Vodafone merger

Vodafone said on Friday morning that both parties had "cooperated with the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority but that approval of the deal was out of reach.

"It has now become clear that the parties are unable to satisfy the MCCAA’s requirements and consequently they have decided to terminate the transaction and withdraw the notification," the statement said.

GO later issued a statement saying that the Office for Fair Competition had initiated an investigation "in view of serious concerns on significant impediment to effective competition in the market".

"The takeover process, the largest market concentration in Malta’s history, had been closely followed both in Malta and beyond in view of a number of objections from the industry, consumer groups and other parties," it said.

A GO spokesperson added: "Though GO does not shy away from competition, and indeed welcomes it, the proposed takeover would potentially have resulted in a scenario that would have been bad for consumers, bad for a sustainable and viable communications industry and ultimately not ideal for Malta as a whole."

The MCCAA confirmed that the merger deal was off in a statement issued on Saturday morning. A decision on the merger, which it said it had been in the process of finalising following a five-month investigation, would now no longer be issued, it said. 

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