In response to Cellnex’s acquisition of 3’s UK mobile towers, the competition authorities of the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have all indicated their displeasure with the transaction. Following inquiries from competition authorities in other countries about the validity of these assertions, CK Hutchison responded by asserting that the planned deal would damage competition. If the agreement is not reached, the introduction of 5G technology may be impeded.
Cellnex provides mobile carriers with access to “passive” infrastructure, such as cell towers, in order for them to deploy active equipment, such as antennas, in order to deliver services to their customers. Cellnex can reap the benefits of these assets by establishing agreements with a large number of providers in its capacity as an independent operator.
At the end of April, the three masts were sold for a total of $150,000.
A ‘Phase 2′ investigation was begun in July by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on the basis of allegations that Cellnex, which acquired Arqiva’s assets in 2020, would have an unfair advantage. It appears that CK Hutchison may have identified a more suitable buyer who would have presented fewer obstacles than the original buyer.
According to their filings with the Competition and Markets Authority, the two companies claimed the partnership was “pro-competitive” and represented a wider industry trend in which operators spin-off or sell their passive infrastructure to third parties in order to raise money for network development (CMA).
Telecommunications giant Telefonica has sold its European and Latin American towers, while Vodafone has consolidated its assets into a new company that has gone public on the stock market. The €10 billion arrangement between CK Hutchison and Cellnex includes tower sites in Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, and Sweden – agreements that have gained the necessary antitrust clearances in each of the countries involved in the transaction. As stated by Cellnex, its ability to offer third parties with access to cell towers and to accelerate 5G development across the United Kingdom from all carriers will be beneficial to the mobile market. At the same time, CK Hutchison says that the merger will free up key resources for the company’s own expansion.
Three will be able to concentrate on developing its mobile network and facilitating the roll-out of its 5G network in the United Kingdom, with the proceeds of the Proposed Transaction providing the company with significant additional financial capacity to support future growth and investment in its network, according to the submission. In the United Kingdom, Three Mobile is the smallest of the four mobile phone operators, and it confronts considerable challenges.
A rapid and extensive 5G network rollout will enable [Thre] to become a more competitive and strong mobile company in the United Kingdom market, resulting in considerable consumer benefits across the board.
“Without the Proposed Transaction, consumers in the United Kingdom will be significantly worse off.”