The UK Competition Authority announced on Thursday that it has decided to launch an in-depth investigation into the proposed merger between Vodafone and Three, two of the country's leading mobile operators.

In a briefing note, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) explains that its investigation aims to determine whether this transaction is likely to lead to a weakening of competition in the UK.

Vodafone and CK Hutchison, the owner of Three, had announced binding agreements in June 2023 to merge their UK cell phone subsidiaries, Vodafone UK and Three UK respectively.

The merger would bring the UK market down to three major players, alongside 02 (Telefonica) and EE (BT), from the current four.

The CMA warned last month that it planned to investigate the merger, unless both companies offered solutions that addressed its concerns.

However, both Vodadone and Three have informed the CMA that they do not intend to take any steps to address the CMA's concerns, resulting in the opening of a so-called 'phase 2' investigation, which will close on September 18.

On the London Stock Exchange, Vodafone shares were little changed by these announcements, gaining around 0.1% in early trading.

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