Anti-trust regulators in Argentina have ordered Telecom Italia to sell its holdings in the country over concerns that Spain’s Telefonica – a shareholder in Telecom Italia – could monopolise the market. The Latin American Herald Tribune reports that Argentina’s National Commission for the Defense of Competition (CNDC) ruled that Telefonica has assumed a “dominant position” in Argentina’s telecoms market. The concerns have arisen because the Spanish group controls Telefonica Argentina but also has an indirect stake in rival operator Telecom Argentina as a result of its stake in Telecom Italia (Telefonica owns 42.3 percent in an investor group called Telco that owns 24 percent of the Italian operator). Telecom Italia has a 50 percent stake in Sofora, the holding company that controls Telecom Argentina.

The CNDC’s vice-chairman, Humberto Guardia has reportedly given Telecom Italia one year to sell its stake in Sofora. However, Telecom Italia has argued that Telefonica’s minority stake in the Telco consortium has no influence on the Argentinean market, and sources says that the Italian company is likely to appeal any ruling that forces it to relinquish its stake. According to Wireless Intelligence data, Telefonica is Argentina’s second-largest mobile operator with 15.1 million connections by the end of the second quarter. Telecom Argentina – which uses the ‘Personal’ mobile brand – was third on 13.6 million. The mobile market is led by America Movil’s Claro, which has 16.2 million connections.