ASX-listed infrastructure investor Infratil has been cleared by the kiwi Commerce Commission to buy up to half of the shares in Vodafone New Zealand, despite already owning power and broadband supplier Trustpower.
In May this year, a consortium comprising Infratil and Canadian asset manager Brookfield had a A$3.2 billion offer for Vodafone's New Zealand arm accepted.
The deal was contingent on official scrutiny as Vodafone New Zealand is the country's largest mobile telco, and placed second in the fixed broadband market.
Concerns were voiced that joined up with multi-utility Trustpower which is aggressively marketing residential broadband nationwide, merged with Vodafone, the new operation would have undue market power.
The Commerce Commission considered this, but noted that several other multi-utility players have emerged in NZ, including Vocus, Nova Energy and Contact Energy.
Vodafone and Trustpower don't compete closely with each other and in areas where they hold high market share, face other players such as Vocus, 2Degrees, Stuff and incumbent Spark, the watchdog said.
"Consistent with the mobile market study preliminary findings, we consider competition in mobile markets is generally driven by the three network operators and is therefore unlikely to be affected by Infratil’s acquisition.
For these reasons, we are satisfied that the proposed transaction should be granted clearance,” the chair of the Commerce Commission said.