The planned merger between state-owned broadband provider Une-EPM and Millicom International Cellular (MIC)-backed cellco Tigo Colombia has received regulatory approval, antitrust authority the Superintendencia Industria y Comercio (SIC) announced in a press release yesterday. The watchdog granted its approval on the condition that the combined entity hand back spectrum, noting that the merger body would hold the rights for 135MHz of frequencies, exceeding the cap of 85MHz per operator. Under the ruling, the duo have been given eight months to make a decision on which blocks of spectrum to return and to inform the Ministry of Information Technology and Communication (MinTIC) and the SIC. The duo would then have 28 months to hand back the spectrum. Should the duo fail to meet the SIC’s terms, the watchdog has warned that it could withdraw its approval and impose fines of up to COP61.6 billion (USD31.8 million). TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Tigo and Une-EPM agreed to the merger in July 2013. Une-EPM held a 24.99% stake in Tigo until November 2013, when it purchased a further 24.99% stake from fellow state-backed telco Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Bogota (ETB). Under the terms of the Tigo/Une merger, MIC will take a minority stake but will assume operational and administrative control of the provider, while also clearing more than COP181.4 billion of EPM’s debts.
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