In the coming weeks, the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority will be communicating its final decision on the proposed merger between Melita and Vodafone Malta.
Irrespective of the decision that will be announced, Melita and its shareholders remain committed to investing further in the company and in Malta to be in a position to deliver leading telecommunications services combined with best-in-class customer support.
When the current shareholders took ownership of Melita at the beginning of 2016 they recognised that clients were happy with the quality of products offered and the value provided. Clients did though remark, vociferously, they expected better from us on the customer support and ‘after sales’ aspect. This is a fundamental pillar of the Melita that we want to build and, from day one, we have been working hard to address support quality.
For starters we focused on ensuring we respond to customers in a timely manner and, although incidents do happen, we are so committed to this aspect that we are now the only company in Malta that publishes its customer response time on its website front page. On average, this year we answered customer calls within 44 seconds.
We have also published key service promises about the quality of service and repair time. I have made my own e-mail address (email@example.com) available and invited clients to write to me directly when the company’s response does not meet their expectations.
To achieve this, much more investment has been made in systems and processes, policies have been redesigned and core issues addressed, making the experience smoother for clients.
In no way are we saying we are there yet but customer response shows that the improvements are felt. There’s more to go but our commitment is clear.
On the product front, just a few days ago, Melita brought Gigabit internet to Malta making these super high speeds available to both residential and business customers at very affordable rates.
Gigabit internet is already available in Sliema, St Julian’s and Valletta. Similarly, next year, will see Melita moving into the 4.5G mobile service and preparing for the introduction of 5G mobile.
Thanks to the investment by Melita and our competitors, GO and Vodafone, the quality of telecom infrastructure is also recognised by international investors seeking to do business in Malta.
In the recent EY Malta Attractiveness Survey, the quality of ‘telecommunications infrastructure’ was rated as the third most important feature that attracts foreign direct investment towards Malta.
The demand for converged services is accelerating rapidly
The speed at which new technologies will be deployed across all Malta will clearly be affected by the MCCAA’s upcoming decision.
Regarding the proposed merger, just a few days ago; GO plc’s CEO penned an article titled ‘Telecoms industry at a crossroads’. It contained incorrect statements that could mislead readers of this newspaper. Such claims are easily refutable when checked against the official statements issued over the past months in relation to the proposed merger.
The first of these incorrect statements is that “Melita will take over Vodafone Malta”.
As stated clearly in the original press release on May 24, the transaction will see a merger between the two entities Melita Ltd and Vodafone Malta Ltd.
Therefore, (a) there is no takeover, and, (b) all shareholders remain invested in and committed to Malta. So much so that the shareholders also announced that the combined company’s mobile and enterprise business will operate under the Vodafone brand.
The author also came to the conclusion that... “the situation is further complicated by the sheer expense which Melita will need to incur to acquire a controlling stake in Vodafone Malta”.
Once again, Melita is not buying Vodafone Malta but, as already explained, the transaction is a merger of the two entities.
There will be no cash consideration by either Melita or Vodafone Malta for the merger. The statement is further challenged by the fact that Melita has been valued higher than Vodafone Malta.
As clarified above, there is no payment by Melita for any acquisition since this is a merger. Hence, the statement “With this significant outlay to recoup… the implications for future investment in infrastructure by operators, for consumers’ pockets and Malta’s general economic competitiveness are all too clear” simply does not hold.
The article also tried to portray the possible combined company as one that will enjoy a “dominant position”.
The reality is that such a title is only true for GO plc, which is still enjoying the benefits of its legacy as a State monopoly and incumbent operator.
In a market where demand for converged services is accelerating rapidly, the combined company would be in a stronger position to compete with the fully-integrated incumbent, ensuring sustainable consumer choice over the long term.
Melita would like to take this opportunity to thank the MCCAA for the professional way it has handled the proposed merger and all other stakeholders that have contributed to the process.
Harald Roesch is CEO of Melita.