The Office for Competition, part of the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority, has opened an investigation into the proposed Melita-Vodafone merger.
In a statement the Authority said: “The Office has serious concerns that the transaction could prima facie limit competition, mainly in the mobile telephony market and possibly in the fixed markets, without providing sufficient pro-competitive effects. This is primarily based on the potential harm to competition and consumer welfare arising from the fact that the concentration would significantly curtail the possibility for three players to operate in the relevant markets, as it would instead create a dominant player within a duopolistic set-up.
“This assessment reflects serious concerns arising from the proposed concentration with regards to the horizontal effects of the transaction in the mobile-only market, and the potential for co-ordinated and foreclosure effects in the mobile-only and multi-play markets.
“The Office will therefore assess the proposed transaction in-depth by opening a Phase II investigation. This will deeply investigate issues raised in this assessment, as well as others which may arise in the course of the Phase II process.”
Vodafone Malta said it was expected that such a transaction would require a more in-depth analysis and move to a Phase 2 investigation. Vodafone Malta will continue to assist and cooperate fully with the Office for Competition in this important process.
Melita said that, if approved, the merger would have multiple beneficial effects for consumers as well as for the Maltese economy at large.
“Consumers will have real competition and choice in the market for converged bundles combining Melita’s superfast fixed internet, TV and telephony together with superior mobile coverage on Vodafone’s network. Melita is also fully committed to delivering European ‘best in class’ standards of customer service.”