Telefónica acquires WiMAX ISP

5 Jul 2006

Telefónica de España (TdE) has completed its takeover of ISP Iberbanda and assumed control of the company following the appointment of six of its employees to the company’s eleven-member board of directors. TdE paid EUR36.5 million to take a 51% stake in the company; Grupo PRISA and Informatica El Corte Ingles now control a reduced 21.69% each, with Omega Capital holding 5.62%.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, TdE has been eyeing Iberbanda since early 2005. Despite being a relatively minor player in terms of the overall broadband market, Iberbanda’s considerable appeal lies in its possession of a nationwide 3.5GHz wireless spectrum licence and fledgling WiMAX network. Iberbanda uses Alvarion and Aperto pre-WiMAX equipment to provide rural and urban broadband services, predominantly to corporate users, and has invested more than EUR150 million in its network. TdE struck a deal to acquire Iberbanda in August 2005 but in January 2006 the country’s antitrust court, the Tribunal de Defensa de la Competencia (TDC), recommended that it should not be allowed to complete the purchase lest it be detrimental to competition. TdE was not easily deterred, however, and in April 2006 it informed the TDC that it was still looking to acquire its smaller rival. It continued to negotiate with both the TDC, its parent the Servicio de Defensa de la Competencia (SDC) and Iberbanda shareholders and by early June the watchdog had been swayed into approving the acquisition of a 51% stake in the ISP.