ComCom not concerned about overlap between Voda and Infratil’s Trustpower unit

New Zealand’s Commerce Commission (ComCom) has cleared the sale of Vodafone to the Infratil consortium, stating it is not concerned about a potential loss of competition in the consumer telecoms market.

Vodafone agreed the NZ$3.4 billion sale of its New Zealand arm in May to a consortium comprised of local infrastructure investor Infratil and Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management. The former is the majority shareholder of electricity provider Trustpower, which also offers residential broadband services, and late last year struck a wholesale deal with incumbent Spark that paves the way for it to begin selling mobile services.

"While Trustpower has in the past been an aggressive competitor in residential broadband, with a particular focus on energy and broadband bundles, several other multi-utility providers have similarly emerged including Vocus, Nova Energy and Contact Energy," said ComCom chair Anna Rawlings, in a statement. "2Degrees and Stuff are also competing effectively in the residential broadband market alongside Spark and MyRepublic."

Vodafone has been looking for a way out of New Zealand for years.

In June 2016, Vodafone agreed to merge its New Zealand operation with Sky Network Television in a deal worth NZ$3.44 billion.

After a lengthy review, ComCom blocked the tie-up, citing concerns about its potential impact on competition. Rather than find a way forward, Vodafone and Sky abandoned the deal in June 2017.

This time round, the antitrust watchdog has no such concerns about diminished competition.

"As it stands, Vodafone and Trustpower are not each other’s closest competitors and even in regions where they would old high market shares, such as Bay of Plenty and Wellington, they will continue to face effective competition from several other national operators," Rawlings said.