Australian court rules $10 billion Vodafone, TPG merger would not hurt competition

Technology

A woman holds her phone as she walks past an advertisement for Australia’s TPG Telecom Ltd in central Sydney, Australia, April 12, 2017. REUTERS/Steven Saphore

SYDNEY (Reuters) – An Australian Federal court judge said on Thursday an agreed A$15 billion ($10.1 billion) merger between a local joint venture of Britain’s Vodafone Group PLC and internet provider TPG Telecom Ltd would not lessen competition.

The ruling appears to overturn a decision by antitrust regulator the Australian Competition and the Consumer Commission (ACCC), which blocked the planned deal last year.

The ACCC had said a tie-up between the companies would discourage Vodafone, Australia’s second-largest mobile phone company, from entering the internet market and discourage TPG from building a mobile phone network.

However, a merger between the two “would not substantially lessen competition”, Federal Court judge John Middleton said in a televised ruling.

Vodafone’s Australian joint venture partner Hutchison Telecommunications and TPG Telecom were both in a trading halt on Thursday.

Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Sandra Maler and Jane Wardell

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