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Growing Signs ACCC May Block TPG/iiNet Telecoms Deal

Growing Signs ACCC May Block TPG/iiNet Telecoms Deal

Many observers believe  the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is bound to intercede, claiming the TPG takeover would turn out to be a competition-killer.

The enlarged group would have about 1.7 million broadband subscribers, putting it well ahead of Optus’s 990,000 users

A notice on the ACCC’s public register said the government body is keeping an eye on the proposed acquisition. “The ACCC will commence a public review once a submission is received from the merger parties,” the notice said.

The commission is being urged by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam to put the kybosh on the deal. “IiNet and TPG currently compete strongly for broadband consumers in every geographic market in Australia, with offerings that are substantially different from those of the largest players, Telstra and Optus. A merger of the two companies would leave Australians with markedly reduced broadband choice,” he claimed.

“The ACCC must not sit by and let the sector descend into a feeding frenzy that leaves consumers with no real choice between services.”

The ACCC was saying nothing further yesterday, but many observers believe intervention is almost inevitable.

Other options may also be also in play, however. Several commentators have suggested Optus might put in a higher bid for iiNet – unlikely, in others’ view, since the Singapore management seems more interested in the growing Asian telecoms market rather than the mature Australian scene.

And then there’s the question of what might become of flailing No 3 operator Vodafone. A pullout? A sale to Optus?