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Public asked for views on plan for Sure to buy Airtel

Public asked for views on plan for Sure to buy Airtel

Monday 22 May 2023

Public asked for views on plan for Sure to buy Airtel

Monday 22 May 2023

The public is being asked for its views on the prospect of Sure buying Airtel, and the number of mobile operators in the island subsequently reducing from three to two.

Last October, Sure announced that it wanted to buy Airtel by mutual consent after the latter had struggled to compete in the local market.

However, the deal has to be endorsed by the island’s competition regulator, which by law has to assess the implications for consumers.

After conducting an initial review, the Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority is now asking existing or potential new competitors, customers groups, and business organisations for their thoughts.

Sarah Price, Chief Operating Officer at the JCRA, said: “Open and vigorous competition is good for consumers because it can result in lower prices, new products of a better quality and more choice. 

“It is also good for fair-dealing businesses, which flourish when markets are competitive."

She added: “Mergers and acquisitions can bring many benefits to an economy, introducing new management skills and investment, and in many cases, improvements in efficiency through economies of scope and scale.

"However, they may also lessen competition and it is therefore appropriate that we thoroughly investigate and consider all of the factors, including the market before merger and the likely impact post-merger.

“In this case we believe it is imperative to gather as much feedback as possible so that our final decision is balanced, informed and in the interests of all stakeholders, not least customers of Airtel and Sure.”


Pictured: Sarah Price, Chief Operating Officer at the JCRA.

In its first review of the proposed sale, the JCRA identified some ways that the deal could damage competition in the retail mobile market, including the risk that JT and the combined entity could unilaterally raise prices or reduce the quality of their services.

Guernsey-headquartered Sure is ultimately owned by Bahrain Telecommunications Company, while Airtel is owned by the New Dehli-based Bharti corporation.

The prospective deal includes Sure buying Airtel’s Guernsey operation, although the competition watchdog there has not yet been asked to assess the proposed acquisition.

As well as uncertainty over the impact on prices and services, the deal also raises questions about how mobile spectrum will be allocated.

As it stands, Sure and Airtel control 65% of radio frequencies allocated for mobile operators. The JCRA wants to know if anyone has any concerns about that.

For its part, Sure argues that buying Airtel will allow it to make significant investment in its network, including launching a 5G version.

The JCRA can approve or reject the deal but it also has the right to permit it with conditions. Indeed, Sure itself has offered a number of conditions which it judges mitigates the potential harm to competition from the proposed transaction.

Anyone wishing to comment should email the JCRA at by 16 June.


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