The European Commission (EC) has accused multinational telecoms group Altice of proceeding with its EUR7.4 billion (USD9.2 billion) acquisition of PT Portugal (MEO) before receiving approval from EU antitrust watchdogs. The EC has alleged that ‘the purchase agreement between the two companies put Altice in a position to exercise decisive influence over PT Portugal before notification or clearance of the transaction, and that in certain instances Altice actually exercised decisive influence over PT Portugal’. If the EC were to conclude that Netherlands-headquartered Altice did implement the transaction prior to its notification or prior to adoption of the clearance decision, it could impose a fine of up to 10% of Altice’s annual worldwide turnover.
For its part, Altice has denied any wrongdoing, and issued a media statement clarifying: ‘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 sending of a statement of objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the investigation.’
TeleGeography notes that Altice has previous form in ‘jumping the gun’ in corporate tie-ups: in November 2016 the group reached a settlement with the French Competition Authority (Autorite de la Concurrence) by accepting a fine of EUR80 million for taking over French telecoms provider SFR before being authorised to do so by the antitrust regulator.