European telecoms company Altice could face a fine after the European regulator alleged that it breached merger regulations during its 2014/2015 acquisition of PT Portugal.
On Thursday the European Commission announced that it has sent a statement of objections to Altice, which is controlled by billionaire Patrick Drahi. It alleged that Altice breached EU merger regulation by implementing the acquisition of PT Portugal, which was owned by Brazil’s Oi, before notification or approval by the Commission.
Margrethe Vestager, the commissioner in charge of competition policy, said in a statement:
If companies jump the gun by implementing mergers prior to notification or clearance, they undermine the effective functioning of the EU merger control system.
On 9 December 2014, Altice agreed a deal with Oi to gain full control of PT Portugal. Just over two months later, it informed the Commission of its intentions. In April 2015, the Commission approved the deal, subject to conditions.
That approval is not set to be withdrawn, but the Commission could impose a fine of up to 10 per cent of Altice’s annual worldwide turnover if it concludes that Altice implemented the transaction too swiftly.
Altice said in a statement:
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.