The window to comment on the UK Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) inquiry into the acquisition of Airwave, the current operator of the UK’s emergency services communications network, by Motorola Solutions closed last week (Friday 20 May 2016). The CMA is due to announce its Phase 1 decision on the merger by 1 July 2016.
The CMA stated on its website that the 1 July 2016 date is the 'current statutory deadline by when the decision will be announced. If any change occurs, the information is refreshed as soon as practicable. However, the CMA qualified this by saying it cannot guarantee that the decision will be announced on or before this current deadline, as the deadline of a given case may change during the merger assessment process due to different reasons'.
At the Phase 1 decision juncture, the CMA has three options: clear the merger; start a Phase 2 inquiry (which can last up to six months); or give the parties five working days to provide undertakings that would resolve the CMA’s concerns about the merger.
The Statutory timetable began on 17 March 2016 when the CMA ‘served an initial enforcement order under section 72(2) of the Enterprise Act 2002 on Motorola Solutions Inc, Motorola Solutions Overseas Limited and Motorola Solutions UK LP One (UK) in relation to the completed acquisition of Guardian Digital Communications Holdings Limited (the parent company of Airwave Solutions Limited)’.
Motorola completed the acquisition of Airwave on 19 February 2016. Motorola Solutions is the largest manufacturer and solutions provider in the global professional mobile radio market. It is also one of the main providers of the forthcoming £1bn Emergency Services Network (ESN) – a 4G LTE service, which is due to begin replacing Airwave from September 2017 with 12 UK regions transitioning to ESN between then and 2020.
Motorola is the Lot 2 User Services provider for ESN, managing voice and data services and applications for fire, police and ambulance users. The 4G network is being provided by the Lot 3 Mobile Services provider – the UK mobile network operator EE.
The CMA has deemed the acquisition worth investigating as Motorola now owns the current Airwave emergency service network and it has a key role in its successor network, which will overlap with Airwave from September 2017 until 2020. It is also has a major role in certifying devices and applications on the ESN network – including its own devices and those of its device manufacturer and critical communications solutions rivals.
The CMA stated on its website that it is ‘considering whether it is or may be the case that this transaction has resulted in the creation of a relevant merger situation under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002 and, if so, whether the creation of that situation has resulted, or may be expected to result, in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services’.
Motorola Solutions completes £700m acquisition of Airwave
Motorola Solutions buys UK emergency services comms provider Airwave