The ACCC announced its decision on Thursday, with chair Rod Sims saying it remained disappointed by the outcome, "which has closed the door on what we consider was a once in a generation chance for increased competition in the highly concentrated mobile telecommunications market".
And he added: “The future state of competition without a merger is uncertain. But we know that competition is lost when incumbents acquire innovative new competitors.”
Berroeta said the competition watchdog's move meant the two companies could now take the next step to finalise the merger.
"We believe that the merger will allow us to be a stronger player that will bring more choice and value for Australian consumers and businesses."
The ACCC's statement came on the same day that VHA switched on its first 5G sites, in Parramatta.
“We have ambitious 5G rollout plans," Berroeta said. "The more quickly the merger can proceed, the faster we can deliver better competitive outcomes for Australian consumers and businesses.
“Ultimately, consumers and businesses will be the big winners from this merger. After 18 months of uncertainty, we’re excited to now be able to progress our plans.
“Finally, Australia will see a third, fully-integrated telecommunications company with the scale to compete head-to-head across the whole telecoms market.”
He said the merger should be completed by mid-year. “We’ll continue to keep our customers and the market informed of our progress as we embark on this exciting new era,” he added.