The European Commission has found that Altice breached EC regulations during the acquisition
Global telecoms conglomerate, Altice, has been fined €124.5 million by the European Commission over its acquisition of Portugal Telecom.
Altice acquired Portugal Telecom’s assets from Brazilian operator, Oi, in a €7.4 billion deal.
The European Commission fined Altice for completing the acquisition before it fulfilled its duties to sell off its existing assets in Portugal (namely Oni and Cabovisão).
"Companies that jump the gun and implement mergers before notification or clearance undermine the effectiveness of our merger control system. This is the system that protects European consumers from any merger that would lead to higher prices or reduced choice. The fine imposed by the Commission on Altice today reflects the seriousness of the infringement and should deter other firms from breaking EU merger control rules," said commissioner Margrethe Vestager.
The European Commission believes that Altice’s actions had a direct effect on the Portuguese telecoms market, and benefitted the company in an unfair manner.
"In certain cases, Altice actually exercised decisive influence over aspects of PT Portugal’s business, for example by giving PT Portugal instructions on how to carry out a marketing campaign and by seeking and receiving detailed commercially sensitive information about PT Portugal outside the framework of any confidentiality agreement," read a report from the European Commission.
Altice rejects the Commission’s findings and says that it will appeal against the fine.
"Altice fully disagrees with the Commission’s decision… Further, Altice considers that the elements in the Commission’s file do not establish the exercise of influence, as alleged by the Commission, by Altice over PT Portugal’s business conduct neither prior to the merger notification to the Commission nor prior to the Commission’s clearance. Besides, Altice’s right to a due process was violated in several respects during the Commission’s proceedings, in particular related to the investigation conducted by the Commission," Altice said in a strongly worded statement to the press.
Altice also warned that the decision could have "serious consequences for European companies" by setting a precedent, which would "impact on all future M&A transactions in Europe and, consequently, on the EU economy".