Papua New Guinea’s Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) has approved the proposed merger of local fixed line incumbent Telikom PNG with mobile network operator bmobile-Vodafone. Summarising its assessment of the planned tie-up, the ICCC said it believed that the enlarged company would not be able to ‘significantly and sustainably’ increase prices, while it did not envisage that the merger would ‘substantially increase or reinforce any vertical integration’. Moreover, with the ICCC claiming the merger would in fact be ‘pro-competitive’, it has argued that it will create a company that is stronger in financial terms and more able to increase its investment. Commenting on the matter, ICCC chief executive Paulus Ain said: ‘Based on available information, the ICCC has assessed the potential competition effects of the Telikom/bmobile merger and is satisfied that [it] would not have, or would not be likely to have, the effect of reducing or lessening competition substantially in the market for the provision of retail mobile voice, SMS and internet services in PNG.’
Also of note, meanwhile, the ICCC has confirmed its withdrawal of the clearance application for a merger between Telikom and PNG DataCo, the latter of which is responsible for overseeing the construction of the country’s National Transmission Network (NTN) and acting as a non-discriminatory provider of telecommunications transmission services over that infrastructure. With this development said to have come about at the request of the applicant, Kumul Consolidated Holdings Limited (KHCL), the ICCC said no reasons were provided by that company as to its decision to withdraw its merger application.