We are talking about a vertical merger, since the two companies operate on interconnected and complementary markets, i.e. along the same supply chain.
By implementing the merger in question, Telemach will primarily enter the market for the provision of electronic communications services in fixed-line networks, where only Optima is present, and it will take over Optima’s market share. In the horizontal sense, there will be minimal overlap of activities with Optima Telekom; in the retail broadband access market and the transmission of pay-TV programs, where Telemach is currently marginally present, CCA clarified.
In addition to the market of electronic communications services, which the merger will primarily affect, Telemach is – through related companies, including its most significant broadcast medium Nova TV – present in the television advertising industry, where RTL and HRT are its most prominent competitors. It’s also present on the wholesale market of TV channels in the Republic of Croatia, where Optima and other providers of electronic communications services participate as buyers.
Therefore, in terms of the impact this merger will have, taking into account the market share of Nova TV in TV advertising, the CCA considered the potential vertical effects of unilaterally closing the TV advertising market to competing electronic communications services providers as a result of implementing the merger.
It was ultimately determined that the providers of electronic communications services Telemach and Optima could not – by their presence via Nova TV on the television advertising market – jeopardize the position of leading competitors, HT and A1, since both Optima and Telemach are the smallest fixed and mobile network operators on the Croatian market.
In this evaluation procedure, the CCA sought expert opinion from the Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries (HAKOM) as a sectoral regulator in the electronic communications market. HAKOM stated in its observations that in the future it expects positive synergistic effects of the merger in question on further sustainable competition and the accelerated development of the electronic communications market in Croatia.
Besides enhancing market competition, the creation of a third fully integrated competitor to rival the long-standing leading market players should come with benefits for the consumers, HAKOM concludes. In a recent interview to Croatian media, Telemach CTO Nenad Šlibar said that the company had ensured 1.7 billion kuna for the modernization of its mobile network, the development of the 5G network, and the construction of a state-of-the-art fiber-optic network. He pointed out that they started building a 10G home fiber network last February, made available to 35,000 households. Šlibar announced that, following Zagreb and a part of Rijeka, their 5G network would soon be deployed in Split, and they plan to achieve total 5G coverage in Croatia by mid-2022. He also mentioned that they were considering offering a service on the 5G network that would be very similar to the 4G Home Internet they have been providing for several years.