Vodafone files for clearance to buy TelstraClear; pushes new technology angle

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Vodafone has filed with the Commerce Commission to buy TelstraClear.

RAW DATA: Vodafone's filing (PDF)

On its website, the Commission says a decision is due July 27 - but don't get too excited.

A spokeswoman said the regulator said a decision was required in 10 working days of a filing, but for complex takeovers or mergers an extension was the norm.

She had no immediate comment on the possible time frame. 

A telecommunications lawyer familiar with the process told NBR a decision could take anywhere from two to nine months. The average approval period for a significant transaction is around four months.

At first glance, there are no immediate surprises in Vodafone's 83-page filing.

The company centres its filing around the fact , and new competition facilitated by new technologies. The unbundling of Telecom and Chorus exchanges, and the UFB (Ultrafast Broadband fibre rollout) allow non-traditional telecommunications players to offer telco services, Vodafone says.

The deal will mean more exchanges would be unbundled (unbundling means a company moving its own broadband gear into a Telecom or Chorus exchange; the spun-off Chorus controls most phone exchanges, but Telecom has maintained ownership of the largest metro exchanges).

Vodafone also pushes the fact that TelstraClear currently makes no use of its (4G-friendly) spectrum.

Forsyth Barr's Guy Hallwright has warned that Commerce Commission approval is not certain.

Where there used to be three big telcos pitching for big contracts, there are now only two, Mr Hallwright said.

Yesterday, Vodafone NZ CEO Russell Stanners was also seeking to allay fears of a Telecom-Vodafone duopoly, telling NBR that the spread of fibre allowed IBM, HP and many others to offer full telecommunications and unified communications services.

The theme is built on in Vodafone's filing. The likes of Snap and Dimension Data may be flattered to know they are listed as rivals.

Telecommunications Users' Association chief executive Paul Brislen has welcomed the Vodafone-TelstraClear merger. Combined, the two companies will have the scale to seriously challenge Telecom in fixed line business.

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