Court revokes CNDC decision ordering TI to exit Argentina

3 Feb 2010

A court in Argentina has revoked a ruling issued by the country’s antitrust agency, the National Commission for the Defense of Competition (CNDC), which ordered Telecom Italia (TI) to sell its 50% stake in Sofora, the holding company that controls fixed line Telecom Argentina, BNamericas reports. The court ruled that the CNDC does not have the right to order TI to sell its shares in Telecom Argentina, and asked the Supreme Court to order the government to create a national antitrust tribunal, to act in antimonopoly cases. Meanwhile, the European Commission (EC) has said it will study the case after a presentation made by the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO). As reported by CommsUpdate, the CNDC ruled in August 2009 that TI’s indirect stake in Telecom Argentina violated antitrust legislation and ordered the company to sell its 50% shareholding, as Spanish telecom group Telefonica, which acquired a 24.7% stake in the Italian firm through the Telco consortium in October 2007, already owns Argentina’s other fixed line operator Telefonica de Argentina, causing cross-ownership issues. Last month an appeals court suspended the government’s deadline by which TI would be forced to sell its stake in Sofora. TI had immediately launched an appeal against the decision, which ordered it to begin the sale process before 25 February 2010 or face intervention in the process, and completely sell the stake by 25 August 2010. The CNDC has itself since appealed the court’s decision to freeze the timeline.