November 26 (SeeNews) - Bulgaria's competition regulator said on Monday that it has imposed an 804,340 levs ($467,500/411,200 euro) fine on telco A1 Bulgaria, part of A1 Telekom Austria group, over the company's abuse of superior bargaining position regarding its relations with local retailer Handy-Tel, which offered A1's mobile devices and services.
A1 Bulgaria abused its position by setting stricter performance requirements for Handy-Tel in 2017 and then terminating its contract with the company on February 22, the Commission for Protection of Competition said in its decision.
Despite the stricter requirements, Handy-Tel only failed to meet its obligations in the last quarter of 2017, which is not a valid motive for termination of the contractual relations between the two parties, the regulator said.
Following the contract cancellation, Handy-Tel was forced to halt operations as the majority of them were part of its partnership with A1 Bulgaria.
The amount of the fine is equal to 2% of A1 Bulgaria's revenue from telecommunications services in 2017.
A1 Bulgaria, which used to operate under the Mtel brand, was renamed and rebranded in May, in line with a decision of its parent - Telekom Austria Group, to roll out its A1 brand across all of the group's operations.
In Bulgaria, A1 competes with the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC), which operates under the brand name Vivacom, Telenor Bulgaria - a unit of Czech Republic-based investment group PPF, and local Max Telecom, which was set up by the founder of Mobiltel.
(1 euro = 1.95583 levs)