Competition Agency overrules T-HT’s Optima takeover plan

8 Jul 2013

The Croatian Competition Agency (AZTN) has issued a decision blocking the proposed strategic partnership between incumbent T-HT and alternative telco Optima Telekom which would have seen the larger company taking full management control and a minority stake in the altnet following a restructuring to avoid bankruptcy. AZTN’s statement indicates that the restructuring plan’s August 2013 deadline is too close to allow enough time for the takeover deal to comply with the Act on Financial Transactions and Settlements in relation to the Law on Protection of Competition. The agency adds that T-HT should have gained permission for the acquisition of control over Optima (under the Law on Protection of Competition) prior to issuing the joint plan for financial and operational restructuring (which proposed T-HT as the new controlling shareholder of Optima); T-HT filed a notification to AZTN on the same date as the altnet’s restructuring plan was released (28 June 2013). AZTN further states that there was enough time to seek formal anti-monopoly approval for the takeover in principle as the pre-bankruptcy proceedings commenced on 11 April 2013. Regardless of the timing issue, the antitrust agency concluded that ‘there are no arguments by which the concentration [of Optima and T-HT] can be considered admissible,’ based on its reasoning that T-HT, which already has a dominant position in the fixed network services sector, would be handed an increase in its market share to ‘between 60% and 70%’ and in some sub-segments, ‘above 80%’.

Croatia, Hrvatski Telekom (HT), Optima Telekom (incl. H1 Telekom)