Australian regulator drops decision date for TPG-Vodafone merger, in latest delay

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Australia's TPG Telecom Ltd can be seen outside their head office in Sydney, Australia, April 12, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

(Reuters) - Australia’s competition regulator has dropped a provisional date for when it will decide whether to approve TPG Telecom Ltd’s proposed merger with the Australian arm of Britain’s Vodafone Group PLC, an update on its website showed.

In its latest delay, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it was still receiving required information from TPG and Vodafone before it can set a new provisional date for its decision on the mega-telco tie-up.

ACCC had initially set a provisional date of March 28, but in January pushed that back by two weeks to April 11.

In December, ACCC said it was concerned whether the merger would reduce the incentive for the resulting entity to offer lower prices, as the deal involves two of the industry’s biggest four players.

The regulator’s decision may be further complicated by TPG’s move in January to abandon plans to build a mobile telephone network due to a ban on the use of equipment from Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, its chosen supplier.

A Vodafone spokesperson said the company has provided a “significant amount of material” already, and remains committed to the merger. TPG did not respond to an emailed request for a comment.

Vodafone runs a mobile telecommunications business in Australia in a joint venture with Hutchison Telecommunications (Australia) Ltd.

Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in BENGALURU; Editing by Christopher Cushing