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CCP completes review of Telenor merger | The Express Tribune



The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has almost completed review of the first phase of a merger under which Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) takes over the operations of Telenor Pakistan. It is likely that a report will be finalized by next week.

Sources said that various PCC teams have obtained almost all the required documents from relevant stakeholders and their analysis is likely to be completed by March 30.

Under the Competition Act 2010, the Phase I review of a merger is completed 30 days after acceptance of an application and the basic test for the Phase I review is to determine whether the merger strengthens a dominant position.

PTCL owns 100% stake in Ufone and the merger of PTCL/Ufone and Telenor Pakistan is less likely to cause market distortion in Pakistan’s cellular landscape.

According to data compiled by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Telenor Pakistan is the third largest mobile telecommunications company with 44.78 million subscribers, while Ufone ranks fourth with 25.28 million subscribers.

While their collective subscriber base will expand to 70.06 million, the largest player in Pakistan is Jazz with 70.95 million subscribers, or 37.31% of the total market share.

Read Telenor plans a strategic solution by the end of the year

On the other hand, the collective share of Ufone and Telenor will amount to 36.84% of the total subscribers.

The second position in the current scenario is held by Zong Pakistan with 47.40 million subscribers, but after the completion of merger formalities, it will fall to the last place among the three mobile operators in Pakistan.

The Government of Pakistan holds the largest stake of 62% in PTCL, while 26% of the shares along with management rights are held by ‘e&’ of UAE telecom operator Etisalat.

After lengthy and secret negotiations, most of which took place outside Pakistan, e& management reached an agreement with Telenor management in December 2023 to take over all of Telenor’s interests in the country.

The PCC conducted the Phase II review from February 12, 2016 to March 9, 2016, when Jazz acquired Warid Telecom, thereby placing itself in a dominant position.

Meanwhile, a senior Ufone official stressed that the PCC could launch the phase II review based on certain conditions, such as any complaints from the other two telecom operators, and to ensure transparency in the process.

The Phase II review lasts 90 days and is conducted if a merger significantly reduces competition by creating or strengthening a dominant position.

The PCC’s Phase II review of the formal merger between PTCL/Ufone and Telenor Pakistan will take place after the start of the next financial year in July.

At the same time, the Ufone-Telenor merger will meet other thresholds for Phase II review, which include combined assets of more than Rs 1 billion for the merging parties and their combined revenues exceeding Rs 1 billion .

Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd2024.

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