Comptroller appealing Yesss! takeover approval

11 Dec 2012

Austria’s Federal Competition Authority (Bundeswettbewerbsbehorde, or BWB) is appealing a decision of the Austrian cartel court which approved Telekom Austria’s proposed purchase of mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Yesss! from Orange Austria. Authority spokesman Stefan Keznickl announced that the BWB ‘will appeal on the grounds that the assessment [on which the cartel court based its decision] is in essential parts false and insufficient,’ and added that the takeover would be to the detriment of consumers and restrict competition, Dow Jones Newswires reported yesterday, citing economic daily Wirtschaftsblatt.

In late-November TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate reported that the cartel court approved the takeover of Yesss! by Telekom Austria’s domestic division A1 Telekom Austria (including Mobilkom), but the ruling remained subject to appeal by the BWB in addition to the Federal Cartel Attorney. Furthermore, the takeover of Yesss! remains conditional upon the completion of Hutchison 3G Austria’s proposed EUR1.40 billion (USD1.87 billion) acquisition of Orange Austria from France Telecom-Orange and Mid Europa Partners, which was announced in February but is pending subject to the necessary European Commission (EC) approvals, with an EC-imposed deadline of 21 December approaching.

A1 reportedly agreed to pay EUR390 million in February for Yesss!, a ‘budget’ mobile service brand with around 750,000 subscribers, but the BWB subsequently expressed fears that the disappearance of Yesss!’s aggressive price policy would remove the only competitor to A1’s ‘bob’ value brand. BWB fears price increases as a result of diminished competition in the pre-paid segment.

Austria, A1 Telekom Austria, A1 Telekom Austria Group, Hutchison Drei Austria, Orange Austria, Yesss!