Tribunal approves Altech Autopage mergers

MTN, Vodacom, Cell C taking over the company's subscriber bases. By Antoinette Slabbert.

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The Competition Tribunal has given the green light to Altron subsidiary Altech Autopage to sell its subscriber bases to respective service providers, namely MTN, Vodacom and Cell C.

While the Competition Commission recommended unconditional approval, the tribunal set certain conditions for all three mergers, aimed at the protection and assistance of affected employees.

This comes after the Altron group decided last year to exit the market due to changed regulatory and economic conditions that impacted negatively on Altech Autopage’s business case.

The transaction, worth more than R1,5bn, would see Altech Autopage’s clients on Vodacom prepaid and contract sold to Vodacom and the same with Cell C and MTN.

Altech Autopage’s largest client, on-biller Saicom, in December approached the tribunal with concerns about the effect of the mergers on competition in the market. As a result, the tribunal instructed the Competition Commission to do further investigation.

This investigation report was recently finalised, but Saicom was still not satisfied. It applied to be allowed to intervene, which would have given it access to documentation relating to the mergers and the right to lead evidence and question witnesses.

The application was denied on Wednesday, two days before the mergers were approved.

The Competition Commission is still investigating allegation of pre-implementation of the mergers.

  • This piece was first published on Moneyweb and is used here with permission

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