BWB greenlights takeover of Telekom
The Austrian Federal Competition Authority BWB (Bundeswettbewerbsbehörde) gave a green light to the Telekom-Austria voting trust agreement between the Austrian state-holding company, ÖIAG, and the Mexican company, America Movil.
During a news conference on Monday, the BWB made it known that the “acquisition of sole control” over the joint state-owned Telekom by the Mexicans will not be referred to the Cartel Court.
However, there will be no white-wash, and the authorities confirmed their intention to monitor the telecommunications sector on an ongoing basis. “Concerns over cartel law have not emerged with regards to this acquisition procedure, but given the highly concentrated nature of the telecommunications market, an ongoing control over this sector has been foreseen”, says the BWB.
As a result of the statements and the “high prevailing concentration” in the telecommunications market, the Austrian competition authority has concerns that there may be a risk of market foreclosure caused by the obstruction or disadvantage for potential competition.
Last week, the Austrian telecommunications regulating authority, RTR (Telekommunikations-Regulierungsbehörde) confirmed that a decision will still be made in June on the acquisition for sole control of the former state monopolist by the Mexicans.
A go-ahead from the Austrian financial market authorities, FMA (Finanzmarktaufsicht), is still expected. The FMA is having a closer look at the deal because Telekom has a banking license with its subsidiary Paybox.
Regulatory authorities in South-East European countries may also have an input, given Telekom’s activities in this region.
The involvement of the Mexicans with regards to the multimillionaire Carlos Slim, nevertheless remains controversial. The financial law expert and former boss of the Austrian takeover commission, Peter Doralt, considers the decision on the voting trust agreement during the chaotic ÖIAG supervisory board meeting, to be unlawful. This is disputed by the ÖIAG.
Amongst others, it is disputed whether the supervisory board has had sufficient time to even read the voting trust agreement. It is unknown for how long the supervisory board had studied the agreement, since the ÖIAG has only named the time that was invested by workers’ representatives.
As with all other supervisory boards, the ÖIAG does not want to give this information away to its owners, the Austrian citizens. The ÖIAG has forbidden access to the contract with the argument that a moratorium agreement has been made with the Mexicans.