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Croatian regulator starts in-depth probe of United Group's planned buy of Tele2's unit

Author Iskra Pavlova
Croatian regulator starts in-depth probe of United Group's planned buy of Tele2's unit Photo: All Rights Reserved

ZAGREB (Croatia), November 26 (SeeNews) - Sweden's Tele2 said that Croatia's competition authority has launched an in-depth investigation of the planned sale of Tele2 Croatia to United Group, a leading multi-play telecommunications and media services provider in Southeast Europe (SEE).

"Tele2 will continue to support United Group in its dialogue with the Croatian Competition Agency to obtain clearance. A decision from the agency is expected in H1 2020," Tele2 said in a statement on Monday.

In a separate statement earlier on Monday, the competition agency said it has decided to probe the concentration that will arise between United Group-owned Slovenia Broadband and Tele2 Croatia, following the planned acquisition.

The decision was taken after an unnamed interested corporation submitted its opinion on the planned acquisition to the Competition Agency (AZTN) with remarks on the possible effects on market competition, backed by the opinion of an independent legal expert, AZTN said.

"In its opinion the interested undertaking stated that given the market power of the connected undertakings the implementation of concentration could produce significant anti-competitive effects in certain relevant markets. Additionally, in the view of the interested undertaking, competition concerns may also arise due to likely spill-over effects of the connected undertakings of Slovenia Broadband from the media market to the telecommunications market, creating possible barriers on the wholesale markets and the connected retail markets," AZTN said.

It added it will need three months to take a decision on the concentration between Slovenia Broadband and Tele2.

In August 2018, Slovenia Broadband completed the acquisition of the Croatian business Nova TV of Central European Media Enterprises (CME).

In June 2019, United Group said it has agreed to buy Tele2's Croatian business for 220 million euro ($242 million) in line with the Swedish company's plans to focus on the Baltic region.

In Croatia, a market of around 4.3 million people, Tele2 Croatia competes with the local arm of A1 Telekom Austria Group - A1 Hrvatska, and with the wireless arm of Hrvatski Telekom, controlled by Deutsche Telekom.

($=0.907776 euro)