Sure has been unable to expand on why the regulatory approval process for its proposed deal to buy Airtel-Vodafone is yet to commence in Guernsey, as Jersey’s regulator moves to the next stage of public consultation.
The Guernsey based telco announced its intention to acquire Airtel by mutual consent in October last year. The public intention of Sure is to also acquire Airtel’s Guernsey operation, which would reduce the number of mobile operators in the Channel Islands from three to two.
After conducting an initial review, the Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority is now asking existing or potential new competitors, customers groups, and business organisations for their thoughts.
But the Guernsey Competition Regulatory Authority has confirmed that it is yet to be asked by the parties to assess the transaction in Guernsey. The GCRA has no process to undertake until such a time.
The deal must be approved by both the competition regulators, which by law must assess if there will be negative implications for consumers.
In a statement issued to Express, Alistair Beak, Group CEO of Sure, said: “The merger is on-going and remains subject to regulatory approval in both Jersey and Guernsey. We welcome the consultation from the JCRA.
“If the merger is approved it will be good news for Channel Islands’ customers as it will trigger significant investment in the islands’ mobile networks with customers benefiting from faster data speeds, wider coverage, better value for money and a more resilient and secure mobile network.”
Sure declined to answer further questions on the matter.
Pictured: Airtel is currently undergoing a major national restructuring that will see the loss of over 10,000 jobs over three years.
In its first review of the proposed sale, the JCRA identified some ways that the deal could damage competition in the retail mobile market, including the risk that JT and the combined entity could unilaterally raise prices or reduce the quality of their services.
Sarah Price, Chief Operating Officer at the JCRA, said: “Mergers and acquisitions can bring many benefits to an economy, introducing new management skills and investment, and in many cases, improvements in efficiency through economies of scope and scale.
"However, they may also lessen competition and it is therefore appropriate that we thoroughly investigate and consider all of the factors, including the market before merger and the likely impact post-merger."
The JCRA can approve or reject the deal but it also has the right to permit it with conditions. Indeed, Sure itself has offered a number of conditions which it judges mitigates the potential harm to competition from the proposed transaction.
Guernsey-headquartered Sure is ultimately owned by Bahrain Telecommunications Company, while Airtel is owned by the New Dehli-based Bharti corporation.
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