TI no longer barred from exercising rights at Argentine unit, court rules

22 Jun 2010

Telecom Italia (TI) has announced that an Argentine court has annulled some rulings by the country’s anti-trust regulator, the National Commission for the Defense of Competition (CNDC), concerning its local unit Telecom Argentina. Bloomberg reports that the Argentinean Court of Appeals has cancelled a decision that restricted TI from exercising rights in its local unit. The court has also annulled a resolution which suspended rights to exercise and sell a call option on a stake in Sofora – the holding company that controls Telecom Argentina – held by Grupo Werthein. Both TI and Grupo Werthein hold a 50% stake in Sofora. That annulment ‘does not imply the lifting of the judicial decisions on the same matters that imposes similar restrictions on Telecom Italia,’ the Italian company said at the request of market authorities.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, TI tried to exercise a call option for the 50% of Sofora it did not already own in January 2009, but the CNDC froze the move, saying it would lead to the monopolisation of the telecoms market. Three months later the CNDC barred TI from making decisions regarding its local unit, stripping the company’s directors of their voting powers. The agency has claimed that TI’s indirect stake in Telecom Argentina violates anti-trust legislation, 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.