March 8 (SeeNews) - Netherlands-based telecoms and media services provider United Group dismissed as ungrounded a request by Yettel Bulgaria to the competition authority to combine probes into two potential deals for assets of local pay-TV and broadband services provider Bulsatcom, one of which involving United Group.
“These are two different types of procedures with different types of participants acting in different legal capacities,” United Group said in astatement on Tuesday.
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Earlier in the day, Yettel Bulgaria, part of Czech investment group PPF, asked the cmpetition regulator to combine an investigation into Bulsatcom’s sale of certain mobile, broadband and television assets to United Group subsidiary Slovenia Broadband with a procedure assessing the acquisition of Bulsatcom by Sofia-based investment company Viva Corporate Bulgaria.
"It will be illegal for the Bulgarian Competition Protection Commission to accept Yettel Bulgaria’s request but should that happen, we will defend our interests in court," United Group added.
Yettel, which is also seeking a ban on the deal with Slovenia Broadband, “is only targeting to harm United Group business in Bulgaria,” according to the Netherlands-based group.
For its part, Yettel Bulgaria claims that the planned series of acquisitions of companies with strong financials and a solid infrastructure by a major player of the telecoms market will lead to the creation of a dominant operator holding over 60% in the television distribution market and nearly 40% of the Internet access market. "This, in turn, could lead to a weakening of the competitive pressure also in the market for package services (mobile, TV and Internet), where one player will strengthen its leading position," Yettel Bulgaria also said.
The CPC decided in December to look into the acquisition of Bulsatcom by Viva Corporate after being alerted by local telecoms operators Yettel Bulgaria and A1 Bulgaria. Their concern expressed at the time was that the acquisition was financed through a loan from United Group, the owner of Vivacom, formerly known as Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC), and that the creditor is likely to be able to influence decisions related to Bulsatcom’s activity through the terms of the loan.
Slovenia Broadband sought permission from the antitrust regulator last month to acquire Bulsatcom's electronic communications network, comprising mobile towers and fixed fibre network.