February 13, 2020 / 3:54 AM / 5 days ago

Factbox: Vodafone-TPG merger advances in Australia after hiccups

(Reuters) - An Australian court on Thursday backed the A$15 billion ($10.1 billion) merger between TPG Telecom (TPM.AX) and Vodafone’s Australian joint venture (VOD.L) (HTA.AX) despite opposition from the country’s competition regulator.

Following are the detailed milestones and disruptions:

- TPG Telecom was founded in the early 1990s by Malaysian-born Australian David Teoh, who is the present executive chairman of the internet service provider.

- In April 2017, TPG entered Australia’s 4G mobile market by buying spectrum and announcing plans to build an operation worth $1.4 billion and rival networks run by heavyweights Singapore Telecommunications’s (STEL.SI) Optus, Telstra Corp (TLS.AX) and Vodafone Group’s local arm.

- In Aug. 2018, TPG agreed to merge with Vodafone’s Australian business, buying scale in the mobile market to take on Telstra and Optus.

- Shortly after, the Australian government banned China’s Huawei from supplying equipment for a 5G mobile network, citing national security risks. TPG relies heavily on Huawei equipment.

- In Dec. 2018, Australia’s competition regulator warned the merger may hurt competition by eliminating a fourth network operator, but stopped short of blocking the tie-up.

- Early last year, Executive Chairman Teoh said that TPG would abandon building its mobile telephone network because of the Huawei ban. The decision appeared to make the regulator’s concern irrelevant, given TPG no longer had plans to build its own mobile network.

- The regulator responded in May by blocking the merger, and argued that TPG would revive its own network plans if unable to merge, creating a more competitive market with four significant players.

- TPG challenged the ruling in court and received the favorable judgment on Feb. 13. The competition regulator said it would review the judgment before deciding whether to appeal.

Reporting by Renju Jose and Jonathan Barrett in Sydney, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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