Vodafone chief executive Vittorio Colao said: “This transaction will benefit customers in Australia as it creates a company with the necessary scale to compete strongly in the mobile market.”
The new company - named VHA - will have a 26% market share with 6 million customers and a combined revenue of AUS$4 billion per year - roughly the same as Optus but still far behind Telstra, which has a 40% market share.
It will be jointly owned by Vodafone and 3.
Hong Kong-based Hutchinson Whampoa’s willingness to give up control in Australia has fuelled speculation that a similar move is likely in the UK, where the 3 network has just four million customers.
Vodafone, however, played down the rumour. A spokesperson for the company said: “This is just about Australia. It has no bearing on the UK.”