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Nov 13, 2023 15:37 EEST
November 13 (SeeNews) - Telecommunications operator A1 Bulgaria said on Monday that it plans to contest the proposed acquisition of local satellite television and broadband Internet provider Bulsatcom by Southeast Europe-focused media business United Group to prevent an unprecedented consolidation in the media and telecoms market in the country.
A1 Bulgaria is calling for an immediate and adequate intervention by the country's competition authority so as "to send a clear signal to investors and the market that the rules apply to all players and fair competition is promoted," the company said in a press release. The telco added it will alert the relevant institutions in both Bulgaria and the European Union.
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In Bulgaria, the Netherlands-based United Group owns telecommunications operator Vivacom and Nova Broadcasting Group.
The proposed transaction will result in Vivacom obtaining a dominant position with a 60% market share in TV services and 40% in Internet services to the detriment of end-users and market competition, A1 Bulgaria, part of A1 Telekom Austria group, added.
"The potential acquisition of one of the leading paid television operators will lead to a dominant position with control over both free and paid TV content, as well as its distribution. This poses a risk to the consumers' free choice of TV, internet and media content providers," A1 Bulgaria said.
According to A1 Bulgaria, the announced transaction confirms earlier concerns it expressed in parallel with local mobile operator Yettel Bulgaria that the acquisition of Bulsatcom by Sofia-based investment company Viva Corporate Bulgaria had been financed with a loan from United Group.
"We are stunned by the way Vivacom is making another attempt to consolidate the market, despite the fact that the competition authority and the court have repeatedly blocked their acquisitions of telecommunications operators," A1 Bulgaria noted.
Following complaints from Yettel Bulgaria and A1 Bulgaria, the Commission on Protection of Competition (CPC) last year opened an investigation, which has not yet been concluded.
"The announcement of a potential deal by United Group is a poorly concealed attempt at covering up the failure to notify the CPC back in 2022, and thus avoiding significant potential fines from the Commission," A1 Bulgaria said.
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