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ACCC Urges Court To Discount TPG Claims

In the final day of hearings for the TPG, Vodafone merger appeal, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has reportedly urged the Federal Court to discount the claims made by TPG Telecom regarding its inability to build a mobile network on its own.

As reported by The Australian, Justice John Middleton will now weigh up the evidence presented by Vodafone Hutchinson, TPG Telecom and the ACCC for the fate of the $15 billion merger.

In his closing statement, ACCC legal counsel Michael Hodge asked the court how will TPG proceed if there is no merger.

Mr Hodge suggested that there is a ‘real chance’ that TPG founder David Teoh will push ahead with the network rollout regardless of the merger.

He further highlighted the ACCC should not be required to present a burden of proof for how TPG could build a viable network.

“Despite the claims of regulatory paternalism the ACCC is not in the business of building a mobile network,” said Mr Hodge.

Mr Hodge also referred to the lack of conclusive evidence that TPG allegedly didn’t have any alternatives to Huawei’s 5G equipment, a critical factor in its decision to cease construction of its mobile network.

The ACCC is alleging that TPG has used the Huawei ban as an excuse to bolster its case for allowing the merger, with TPG claiming that they require a specific piece of equipment for its proposed small-cell mobile network.

“It’s inherently improbable that Mr Teoh will still have a closed mind to what technical solutions are available to him at that time,” said Mr Hodge.

TPG’s counsel Dr Ruth Higgins SC disputed the ACCC’s case in her closing statement, reinforcing that TPG will not ‘enter the mobile market over the next five years’.

“There is no chance of this complex process to happen quickly, there’s no chance,” said Dr Higgins.

The final decision, which Justice Middleton said would have ‘considerable implications for the Australian telecoms industry at all levels’ could be delivered as late as February 2020.

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