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Airtel-Telkom Merger Approved by Kenya's Competition Watchdog

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Kenyan mobile operators Airtel and Telkom have taken an important step closer to their planned merger following the approval of the deal by the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK).

But the CAK's approval is conditional: The Authority has directed the operators that they cannot sell assets such as spectrum and operating licenses within five years of the closing of the deal, according to a Business Daily report.

The two operators are hoping to merge to form a stronger rival to Kenya's dominant mobile operator, Safaricom, which, as of June this year, commanded 63.5% of the market. Airtel boasted a market share of 24.6% and Telkom 8.1% at that time, so combined they would have had a market share of 32.7% at the end of June, when there was a total of 52.2 million mobile connections across the country. (See Safaricom Is Losing Market Share to Airtel.)

Naturally, Safaricom opposes the merger and has been campaigning against the move, though there are other obstacles in the way of the merger completing. (See Safaricom Sets Out Objections to Airtel-Telkom Merger and Airtel & Telkom Kenya Merger Suspended by Anti-Corruption Body.)

The two operators have been flirting for years, but finally agreed on merger terms in February this year. (See Telkom, Airtel finally get engaged.)

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