Altice accused of breaking EU rules with Portugal deal - Mobile World Live

Altice accused of breaking EU rules with Portugal deal

18 MAY 2017

Altice faces a fine of up to 10 per cent of its worldwide turnover if the European Commission (EC) upholds allegations the company took control of fixed and mobile operator PT Portugal before being given clearance.

In a ‘Statement of Objections’ sent to Altice, the EC accused the company of breaking M&A rules by implementing the acquisition after submitting formal notification of the move, but before being given the green light to proceed.

“The early implementation of transactions in breach of EU merger review procedural obligations is a very serious infringement,” the commission stated.

A full investigation will now take place. If the claims are upheld, the maximum fine is 10 per cent of the company’s annual worldwide turnover. Altice booked revenue of €23.5 billion in 2016, though it is not certain those earnings would form the basis of any EC penalty.

EC competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager (pictured), said: “If companies jump the gun by implementing mergers prior to notification or clearance, they undermine the effective functioning of the EU merger control system.

“The Statement of Objections sent to Altice shows how seriously the commission takes breaches of the rules designed to protect the merger control system.”

In response, Altice said: “Altice does not agree with the European Commission’s preliminary conclusions, and will submit a full response to the statement of objections and contest all the objections.”

The case refers to Altice’s acquisition of PT Portugal, a deal cleared by the EC in April 2015 on condition Altice divested its existing Portuguese subsidiaries Cabovisao and ONI.

Altice was previously fined €80 million by the French Competition Authority for “gun jumping” practices in relation to its acquisition of SFR and Virgin Mobile in 2014.

Regulators found Altice began cooperating on commercial activities prior to the deal being approved, claims the company did not refute.

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Chris Donkin

Chris joined the Mobile World Live team in November 2016 having previously worked at a number of UK media outlets including Trinity Mirror, The Press Association and UK telecoms publication Mobile News. After spending 10 years in journalism, he moved...

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