TPG, Vodafone Sprint Towards July Merger

TPG and Vodafone say their $15 billion merger will be done by July, after competition tsar Rod Sims announced he would no longer push back.By James Fernyhough, Financial Review
March 5, 2020

TPG and Vodafone say they are confident their long-delayed $15 billion merger will be completed by July, after competition tsar Rod Sims announced he would no longer stand in the way.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Thursday said it would not appeal against the Federal Court’s ruling that the merger was legal, ending a bruising and often personal 19-month showdown between Mr Sims and the two firms.

The merger must now get approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board and a US regulator, because TPG has a submarine cable that feeds into the US territory of Guam. TPG shareholders will then vote on the merger.

Vodafone Australia chief executive Inaki Berroeta said he foresaw no difficulties in any of these steps and expected FIRB approval to happen “extremely quickly”.

That means in less than five months, Mr Berroeta will be the CEO of the ASX’s second all-purpose telecoms giant. TPG boss David Teoh will be non-executive chairman.

Exactly who will make up the rest of the board and executive team is yet to be announced, and Mr Berroeta would not be drawn on the subject on a call with analysts and media on Thursday.

“That information will be provided in due course, but at this point, there is not anything to be communicated on that front,” he said.

Mr Teoh himself will be taking a step back from the day-to-day running of the business he founded in the 1980s, but his influence is likely to be felt in some key executives.

The resignation last month of Vodafone’s chief technology officer Kevin Millroy and chief commercial officer Ben McIntosh could leave the way open for two of Mr Teoh’s longest-serving lieutenants, chief operating officer Craig Levy and head of networks David Hanly to fill the two roles.

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