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Vodafone, Hutchison complete VHA merger

Vodafone and Hutchison yesterday completed the 50-50 joint venture to create VHA Pty Limited.
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Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer on

Vodafone and Hutchison yesterday completed the 50-50 joint venture to create VHA Pty Limited.

Hutchison Australia issued a statement this morning via the Australian Stock Exchange detailing the transaction. Vodafone Australia will now become a wholly owned subsidiary of Hutchison's Australian operations, which itself will be renamed VHA Pty Limited.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) late last week opted not to oppose the merger on the basis that long-term competition between the two was not sustainable.

The merger will see Nick Read, chief of Vodafone's Asia Pacific and Middle East region appointed as chairman of VHA, while Nigel Dews, chief of Hutchison Australia, will become CEO of the new entity.

While the Australian Telecommunications User Group said "it regards the potential loss of Hutchison pressure in this market as very negative", the view of the merger from competing mobile provider Optus was more upbeat.

Last week, Optus chief executive Paul O'Sullivan agreed with the ACCC's decision that over the long term the two companies' operations were not sustainable, but issued a threat to the new entity. "I'll promise that we're going give the new guys from Vodafone a really exciting and interesting welcome," he said at a TransTasman Business Circle briefing last week.

Optus is also yet to enter discussions with VHA about what will happen with the network it owns together with Vodafone. "At this stage we've made no definitive decision on network. We expect to be able to engage in the next few months to get a good outcome," said O'Sullivan.

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