Competition Tribunal grants MTN, Rain intervention rights in pending Vodacom, BVI merger proceedings

17th November 2023

By: Creamer Media Reporter


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The Competition Tribunal has granted MTN and Rain leave to intervene in the pending merger hearing involving Vodacom and Business Venture Investments (BVI).

In August 2023, the Competition Commission recommended to the Tribunal that the proposed transaction should be prohibited on the grounds that it raises both competition and public interest-related concerns and that the proposed conditions tendered by the merging parties do not address these concerns.

Both MTN and Rain participated in the commission's investigation of the proposed merger and raised concerns at the time, as the operators are competitors and customers of the merging parties, with Rain also being a supplier.

Both subsequently applied to the Competition Tribunal for participation rights in the pending merger proceedings, for which a hearing was held on November 10, where the Tribunal heard and subsequently considered submissions by MTN, Rain and the merging parties.

The Competition Tribunal, in a statement issued on Friday, said that it granted MTN leave to intervene as a participant in the merger proceedings in respect of whether or not the proposed merger was likely to substantially prevent or lessen competition, including by assessing the factors set out in section 12A(2)(b) to (f) of the Competition Act; and the conditions proposed by the merging parties and/or to be considered by the Tribunal in relation to any approval of the proposed merger.

The Tribunal’s order in relation to Rain grants the mobile communications company leave to intervene as a participant in the merger proceedings in relation to whether or not the proposed merger is likely to substantially prevent or lessen competition in relation to the following theories of harm, as well as the effect of the proposed merger on Rain’s ability to compete in respect of retail Internet services and mobile services as a result of portfolio effects and bundling.

This is in addition to the risk and potential effects of input foreclosure, reduction in competition in wholesale markets, including metropolitan fibre backhaul used for mobile networks and open access to fibre infrastructure and services, as well as information sharing, and whether the proposed merger should be approved, with or without conditions, or prohibited, including whether any conditions proposed by the merging parties to the Tribunal adequately address any anti-competitive consequences of the proposed merger and/or conditions to be considered by the Tribunal in relation to any approval of the proposed merger.

According to the Competition Commission, the proposed Vodacom and BVI merger would combine South Africa’s largest fibre infrastructure player and its largest mobile operator.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter


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