• AFP-Jiji

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Telecommunication firms appealed Wednesday to the communications ministry over a planned ¥4.2 trillion ($40 billion) takeover of the country's biggest mobile carrier by its government-backed parent, warning the move would "prevent fair competition."

Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp., better known as NTT Corp., announced in September its plan to buy out remaining shares in NTT Docomo Inc. in a potentially record-breaking deal.

NTT currently holds 66% of NTT Docomo's shares, and its chief executive argues the move would enhance "competitiveness and growth."

But on Wednesday, 28 telecom companies in the nation, including Docomo rivals SoftBank Corp. and KDDI Corp., sent a joint letter to the communications minister protesting the move.

Making Docomo a wholly owned company would "create a powerful force that dominates the market," they argued.

"It will prevent fair competition in the telecoms market and user benefit created through competition could be lost."

The joint letter calls on the minister "to set up measures to protect an environment of fair competition and instruct and ensure compliance and implementation."

NTT's takeover bid comes as competition heats up in the sector, as 5G services expand and pressure from the government for firms to cut the price of mobile phone services.

With full control of NTT Docomo, NTT may be able to push down prices quickly, forcing competitors to follow suit.

The heads of both companies have denied that pressure over pricing was behind the deal.

The tender offer was launched in September and remains open until Nov. 16, while the full buyout is expected to be finalized by the end of the fiscal year in March.

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