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