Antitrust Regulator Approves Cellcom Purchase of Golan Telecom

A Cellcom service station in Yerushalayim. (Lior Mizrahi/Flash90)

The Israel Competition Authority (formerly the Israel Antitrust Authority) approved the merger between cellphone operators Cellcom and Golan Telecom. The Competition Authority said that it was unconditionally approving the merger and that it does not harm competition.

In February, Cellcom announced that it would buy Golan Telecom at a valuation of NIS 737 million ($213 million) for its smaller rival, which is held by Electra Consumer Products.

The authority’s approval came after the Finance Ministry on Sunday said it had no reason to oppose the deal.

“The cellular market is one of the most competitive markets in Israel,” it said, noting there are six players operating on three mobile networks and that about 2 million subscribers a year switch providers.

The authority also said that since Golan and Cellcom have been in a network-sharing agreement since 2017, the merger would not reduce the number of networks in Israel, while prices would still remain competitive.

Israel’s cellphone industry was shaken up in 2012 with the entry of new operators, sparking a price war. Struggling to remain profitable, the sector is seeing moves towards consolidation.

In 2016, the competition authority blocked Cellcom’s bid to buy Golan on fears mobile prices would rise.