South African Antitrust Authorities Reject Vodacom’s Fiber Acquisition Plan

South African regulators decline Vodacom’s fiber acquisition due to competition concerns and potential future barriers.

In a significant development, South Africa’s Competition Commission (CompCom) has recommended the rejection of Vodacom’s proposal to acquire a 30% share in Maziv. This move comes after Vodacom’s 2021 agreement to purchase a co-controlling stake in fiber assets owned by Community Investment Ventures Holdings (CIVH), a Remgro affiliate listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. The assets include fiber network operators Vumatel and Dark Fibre Africa.

The decision reflects concerns about potential impacts on competition, particularly in areas where both Vodacom and Maziv have already deployed fiber infrastructure. The Competition Commission worries that the proposed merger might diminish competition and raise barriers to future competition in the fiber and 5G Fixed Wireless Access sectors.

Both Vodacom and Maziv had envisioned expanding services to underserved low-income communities, aiming to introduce competitive pricing and consumer choices. However, the merger’s rejection is anticipated to affect these expansion plans, limiting the availability of competitive fiber services for lower-income consumers, as compared to their urban counterparts.

The decision aligns with the regulatory authorities’ focus on preserving competitive dynamics in the market to ensure a fair and inclusive technological landscape.

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