The Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) has given conditional approval to the proposed takeover deal by Telecom Fiji Limited (TFL) of the retail and wholesale operations of Fiji International Telecommunication Limited (FINTEL). Both companies are subsidiaries of government-backed Amalgamated Telecom Holdings Group (ATH). With the deal expected to complete possibly as early as September this year, the provisional approval means that once the conditions set out by the competition body are met, the merger will go ahead. The Fiji Sun notes that FCCC chief executive officer Joel Abraham has declined to reveal what the exact conditions are, but it is thought they relate to competition issues and safeguarding consumer interests. ‘We did note certain issues and for those things we had put out conditions; whether they are able to meet the conditions remains to be seen,’ Mr Abraham said, adding: ‘the conditional approval given will give ATH a chance to meet the requirements, as well as undertake the restructure of their overall portfolios’.
In making its decision, the FCCC assessed what benefits, if any, the merger would bring to the Fijian economy. It also looked at whether it would ‘substantially reduce or lessen competition’, including any impact on rival providers such as Vodafone and Digicel, reviewed the financial viability of both FINTEL and TFL, and ‘looked at the industry as a whole, and how the telecom market is organised’. In conclusion Mr Abraham said the FCCC adjudged there to be ‘adequate competition in those terms’.