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Merger of Sýn hf. and Já hf.

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  • Case number: 42/2023
  • Date: 27/11/2023
  • Company:
    • Já hf.
    • Sýn hf.
    • Eignarhaldsfélagið Njála ehf.
  • Sectors:
    • Telecommunications, IT and media
  • Policy Area:
    • Mergers
  • Summary

    ICA has taken a position on the purchase of Sýnar hf. ("Sýn”) of all the capital in Eignarhaldsfélaginu Njálu ehf. ("Njála"), whose subsidiary is Já hf. ("Yes"). The merger was duly notified on April 28, 2023, and the statutory deadlines then began to run. The investigation concluded with a settlement of the merger on October 4, 2023. This investigation provides a more detailed account of the merger and the reasons for intervention.

    During the investigation of the case, detailed comments were obtained from supervisory bodies and stakeholders, both regarding the general effect of the merger on competition and also regarding the merging parties’ remedies suggestions to reduce adverse effects.

    Merger parties are in general a telecommunications companies, media providers and information service companies. Sýn is a powerful telecommunications company and media provider with a significant market share in the markets. Já is an information service company that bases its operations to a large extent on a database of telephone numbers, which in previous years was the only database of its kind.

    The markets that the merger will mainly affect are the market for operation and wholesale access to a database of telephone numbers in Iceland and the retail markets for services based on access to said database. However, in view of the outcome of this case, the ICA did not consider it necessary to take a final position on the definitions of the markets in the case.

    The ICA’s investigation indicated that the status of Já in the market for access to a database of telephone numbers and retail markets based on the database, e.g. information services via phone and information services on the Internet, would be strong and could be strengthened by a merger with Sýn. The investigation also indicated that the position of Sýn becoming the owner of Já, which is an important business and service partner for both Já and for its main competitor in the information services market, could have adverse competitive effects. Furthermore, the study indicated that there were conditions for possible conflicts of interest, i.a. where sensitive business information about customers of other telecommunications companies could possibly be shared with Sýnar. Respecting all this, and taking into account the competitive failures that exist in the market, cf. previous decisions of the Competition Authority and the Telecommunications Agency, there would be a risk that competition would be harmed because of the merger.

    In order to prevent the harmful effects of the merger, a settlement was made in the case, which aims to reduce and/or prevent the aforementioned issues that the investigation indicated. In this way, Sýnar's wholesale is obliged to observe equality and objectivity towards other information service companies. There is also a ban on sharing sensitive business information from Já to Sýn and a restriction on traceability. Sýn also agreed to grant other information services, subject to certain conditions, one-way one-time access to basic phone number informations in order to level the playing field for important inputs in the provision of information services.