It's a big day for Vodafone Australia. Its first 5G site just came online, and now the ACCC has finally waved the white flag in its battle to block Vodafone's merger with TPG.
While the ACCC technically had until late next week to lodge some level of appeal against the court ruling that gave the TPG/Vodafone merger the green light, the ACCC has today announced that it has no intention of doing so.
In order for an appeal to succeed, the ACCC would have had to establish some kind of error in law as applied by Federal Court's Justice John Middleton. It seems like the ACCC decided it didn't have those grounds, so won't continue the case.
In a statement, ACCC Chair Rod Sims said that
"The ACCC remains disappointed by this outcome, which has closed the door on what we consider was a once in a generation chance for increased competition in the highly concentrated mobile telecommunications market. The future state of competition without a merger is uncertain. But we know that competition is lost when incumbents acquire innovative new competitors."
The ACCC is certainly still willing to oppose mergers in the future despite losing this particular case.
"Despite this outcome, we will continue to oppose mergers that we believe will substantially lessen competition, because it’s our job to protect competition to the benefit of Australian consumers" said Sims.
For his part, and not surprisingly, Vodafone (and soon to be TPG) CEO Iñaki Berroeta said
"We are pleased that the ACCC has decided not to appeal the Court’s decision and that will allow us to quickly progress completion of the merger with TPG. We believe that the merger will allow us to be a stronger player that will bring more choice and value for Australian consumers and businesses"
Berroeta said that he still expected the merger to be completed by mid-2020.