The Philippines competition regulator asked a court of appeals to lift an order stopping its review of PLDT and Globe Telecom’s PHP69 billion ($1.5 billion) deal to acquire San Miguel Corp’s (SMC) telecoms assets.
The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) last month hit a stumbling block in its attempt to halt the country’s two dominant operators’ controversial joint acquisition, when an appeals court granted PLDT’s request to temporarily stop PCC from conducting further proceedings for its pre-acquisition investigation.
The court said: “We agree with PLDT that, due to the ‘deemed approved’ status extended to the acquisition by virtue of the transitory rules, at the very least, PLDT has a clear right to be protected from the pre-acquisition review and/or investigation conducted by PCC.”
In a 40-page document dated 14 September, the Office of the Solicitor General, which represents PCC, said the appellate court “seriously erred in finding merit” in PLDT’s plea to temporarily stop the competition regulator’s review of the deal, BusinessWorld reported.
It went on to say: “…the acquisition is an exceedingly complex transaction involving the use and allocation of a scarce and extremely valuable public resource – radio frequencies. Without a doubt, the acquisition poses a considerable economic impact necessitating the exercise of the respondent’s power of review under the Philippine Competition Act.”
PCC issued a statement in late August warning that the deal, which includes most of the country’s valuable 700MHz spectrum, is “likely” to negatively impact competition.
Both PLDT and Globe filed for temporary restraining orders in July, asking for a halt of the review, with both arguing the “transaction is already deemed approved”.
Despite the review, both operators have pushed ahead with network deployments in the 700MHz band.