Merger may result in new licensee

15 Aug 2006

Portugal’s Competition Authority may propose offering a new nationwide cellular licence if Sonaecom’s planned takeover of Portugal Telecom (PT) goes ahead. Sonaecom is a shareholder in Portugal’s third largest cellular operator, Optimus, while PT controls the market leader, TMN. If the hostile takeover bid succeeds and Optimus and TMN are merged it will leave the country with just two mobile players, including the current second-placed cellco, Vodafone. Local newspaper Publico reports that the competition authority does not intend to block Sonaecom’s bid entirely, but it is likely to impose conditions on the deal. This may involve selling off parts of the mobile networks belonging to Optimus and/or TMN, and the authority has reportedly been canvassing to see if there is interest from third parties in acquiring these assets to create a new operator.

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