Philippine operators PLDT and Globe Telecom filed a petition against a probe by the country’s competition watchdog PCC (Philippines Competition Commission) into their joint buyout of San Miguel Corp’s telecoms assets.
In two separate statements, the companies said they had filed for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to the country’s Court of Appeals, asking for a halt of the review, with Globe arguing the “transaction is already deemed approved”, adding that “the PCC cannot by whim or caprice state that it wants a review without any legal basis”.
“The PCC cannot withhold and block the transaction out of a process not found in their own rules, and not disclosed to the public,” it added.
PCC declared last month it was conducting a “comprehensive review” of the PHP69 billion ($1.5 billion) acquisition, struck in May, after asking operators to resubmit filings, with the agency indicating that the companies may have failed to comply with guidelines of the competition act.
The two operators then called for a meeting with the regulator seeking to resolve any issues it may have, while repeatedly claiming the transaction was above board and did not violate any provisions of the country’s anti-competitive law.
It is worth noting that shortly after the deal was struck, the PCC released new regulations for the competition act, which were put into effect in June.
Both companies also stressed in their statements they have already been implementing the transaction and using the frequencies as part of its nationwide rollout, which includes the valued 700MHz band.
“The new frequencies are now providing Smart with much needed additional capacities which are crucial in its efforts to provide faster, reliable and affordable mobile internet services throughout the country,” said PLDT’s head of regulatory affairs, Atty Espinosa.
In response, the PCC confirmed the applications for a restraining order against it, and said it was “disappointed” about the lawsuit.
It added that the legal action will only serve to delay the review, expressing confidence that it will get a favourable decision from the Court of Appeals.