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Vodafone-Three merger under scrutiny, CMA invites public feedback


The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), under the leadership of CEO Sarah Cardell, is inviting public feedback on the proposed merger between telecom giants Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) and Three. The announcement was made on Friday, inviting third parties to discuss the merger, which was agreed upon in June 2023.

The CMA is working closely with telecom regulator Ofcom during this pre-notification period. Detailed data from both Vodafone and Three will be collected for a Phase 1 investigation. If initial findings suggest a detrimental impact on competition, a more thorough Phase 2 investigation could follow.

Vodafone Group (LON:VOD) and CK Hutchison Group Telecom Holdings have already established binding agreements to merge their U.K. businesses. Vodafone is set to secure majority ownership with a 51% stake. If sanctioned, the merger would facilitate access to 5G SA networks for 99% of the U.K. population, aligning with the government’s Wireless Infrastructure Strategy.

Vodafone is a prominent player in the Wireless Telecommunication Services industry, as per InvestingPro Tips. The company has been consistently increasing its earnings per share and pays a significant dividend to shareholders, which has been maintained for 35 consecutive years. Vodafone’s management has been aggressively buying back shares, which can be seen as a strong sign of confidence in the company’s future prospects.

However, Vodafone CEO Ahmed Essam has warned that failure to approve this merger could lead to reduced investments in 5G infrastructure.

The merger, if approved, would result in the U.K.’s largest mobile network with an estimated 27 million users, surpassing competitors O2 and EE. This has raised concerns about market competition and its potential impact on customer choices, pricing, and the overall quality of mobile networks in the U.K.

The company’s financials, according to InvestingPro Data, show a market cap of 25.4B USD and a low P/E ratio of 2.09, indicating that the stock could be undervalued. The company’s revenue growth has been slowing down recently, with a quarterly revenue growth of -1.36%. Despite this, the company’s gross profit margin stands at 32.5%, reflecting its operational efficiency.

Following the completion of this public consultation process, a forthcoming Phase one investigation by the CMA will provide further opportunities for public input. The CMA’s main aim is to understand the potential impact of this merger on the telecom sector and its customers. For more in-depth analysis and tips, you can visit InvestingPro which provides 13 additional tips for Vodafone and many more for other companies.


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