Swiss Competition Agency Blocks Orange-TDC Mobile Merger

The Swiss competition agency Comco has decided to block a deal that would have combined the respective local mobile subsidiaries of France Télécom and Danish operator TDC, it said on Thursday.

The two companies wanted to combine their Swiss mobile networks, Orange Communications and Sunrise Communications, to be able to better compete with Swisscom, they said in a joint statement.

They announced the merger plan on Nov. 25, and in December Comco started an inquiry into how the merger would affect competition in Switzerland.

On Thursday, Comco concluded that if Orange and Sunrise had merged, the Swiss market would only have had two mobile operators with their own networks, and that would remove effective competition. It would be easier for the new operator and Swisscom, which has the second network, to maintain high prices, instead of competing with each other for market share, the regulator said.

France Télécom and TDC are not happy with the decision, saying that the combined company would have been able to offer more attractive prices to Swiss consumers. The two companies said they will now assess their available options regarding potential next steps.

Elsewhere, France Télécom had better luck. In the U.K. a merger between Orange and Deutsche Telekom subsidiary T-Mobile, was approved on April 1. However, the U.K. market is more competitive than the Swiss one: even after the merger, there are still four U.K. mobile operators with their own network.

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