Vodafone and Three UK have agreed to merge their UK-based operations, which, if authorized by authorities, will create the largest mobile network in the country. The main companies in the UK mobile industry right now are Virgin Media O2, which has roughly 24 million consumers, and EE, which has 20 million.
Vodafone and Three UK are now the third and fourth largest mobile companies, respectively, but the merger will give them over 27 million users, pushing their combined market share past Virgin Media O2.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will now investigate the merger. And the agreement will be great for customers, country, and competition, but the CMA may not agree.
Karen Egan, head of mobile at research firm Enders Analysis, told BBC News that similar agreements in other countries had not resulted in price increases, but that the “CMA’s hawkish approach to mergers of late is not encouraging.” The Unite union disagrees, calling the agreement “reckless” and threatening to “hike people’s bills and mean job losses.”
Vodafone has already announced plans to let off 11,000 employees, with CEO and CFO Margherita Della Valle conceding in May that the company’s “performance has not been good enough.” If the merger is allowed, both corporations have stated that additional job cuts will be made during the next five years.