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REFILE-No in-depth probe into meter groups needed - German cartel office
May 4, 2017 / 12:30 PM / 7 months ago

REFILE-No in-depth probe into meter groups needed - German cartel office

(Corrects paragraph 4 to say late in 2017, not late in 2016)

FRANKFURT, May 4 (Reuters) - Germany’s cartel office has decided against an in-depth investigation into the market for meter reading, it said on Thursday, paving the way for the sale of market leaders Ista and Techem.

The watchdog, however, urged lawmakers to come up with legislation to increase competition in the meter reading market, where Ista and Techem together have a share of around a half.

Techem is owned by Australian infrastructure investor Macquarie, while Ista belongs to buyout group CVC . Both owners plan to sell the respective businesses, people familiar with the matter have said.

CVC has already started the auction of Ista, while Techem is expected to go on sale late in 2017, they added.

“Increased competition can result in lower costs for consumers. In our report, we have made proposals for legal measures to that effect,” Andreas Mundt, president of the cartel office, said in a statement.

The regulator said it would “reserve the right to closely examine behaviour by vendors to seal off the market”, adding any potential attempts by meter companies to merge would be subject to a critical review.

Ista said it welcomed the result of the two-year review, including proposals to increase transparency in the metering market such as standard deadlines for meter calibration. (Reporting by Christoph Steitz and Matthias Inverardi; Editing by Mark Potter)

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