Argentina’s antitrust agency, the National Commission for the Defence of Competition (CNDC), will investigate a proposal by Spain’s Telefonica to gain control of Telecom Italia, in order to determine whether the move will have competition implications in the South American country, Reuters reports. Both telecoms groups currently compete in the Argentine market – Telefonica owns 100% of the shares of fixed line incumbent Telefonica de Argentina (TdA), while Telecom Italia indirectly controls the other national wireline operator Telecom Argentina. Yesterday, Telefonica agreed to increase its stake in Telco, the controlling shareholder in Telecom Italia, in a deal worth around EUR860 million (USD1.2 billion), but the transaction requires approval by antitrust regulators. Reuters cites a government statement as saying that Argentina has asked the CNDC ‘to establish whether this shareholder modification violates the commitments both companies took on before the state in October 2010 … ‘Any changes must be pro-competition and be expressly approved by the Argentine government.’
In 2010 Argentina ended a two-year antitrust investigation of Telecom Italia and Telefonica, after the government and telecoms companies reached an agreement which sought to limit the Spanish company’s influence over Telecom Argentina.