Competition regulator probes Vodafone tie-up with Three

The competition regulator has launched a probe into the planned merger of Vodafone and Three.

The tie-up would create Britain’s largest mobile network.

But the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said yesterday it had opened a ‘phase 1’ investigation to examine whether the deal would lead to a ‘substantial lessening of competition’.

The announcement came after a PR representative for Vodafone and Three mistakenly released statements from the UK bosses of both companies earlier this week responding to the inquiry – before it was even announced.

They argued the merger would ‘significantly enhance’ competition and investment in the British mobile market.

Probe: The tie-up between Vodafone and Three would create Britain's largest mobile network

Probe: The tie-up between Vodafone and Three would create Britain’s largest mobile network

Vodafone and Three announced plans in June to create a £15billion joint venture that would become the UK’s largest mobile operator.

The entity would be 51 per cent-owned by Vodafone and 49 per cent by Three owner, Hong Kong’s CK Hutchison.

The CMA has 40 days to complete this probe and decide on next steps, which could mean a deeper probe. 

But the CMA announcement came a day after Vodafone was told by the Government that its relationship with largest shareholder, UAE-controlled group Emirates Telecommunications, posed a risk to national security.

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