Federal court intervenes against AFTIC in Clarin-Nextel deal

24 Nov 2015

Argentina’s Federal Administrative Court No. 9 has reportedly intervened in the ongoing dispute between media conglomerate Grupo Clarin and the Federal ICT Authority (Autoridad Federal de Tecnologias de la Informacion y las Comunicaciones, AFTIC), regarding the former’s purchase of a 49% stake in Nextel Argentina from US-based NII Holdings. In September this year, AFTIC formally rejected the sale, claiming that the parties had not sought the necessary regulatory approvals prior to announcing the deal. AFTIC claimed that the USD178 million transaction violated Article 13 of Law No. 27,078, and warned that if Nextel pursued the deal it could be stripped of its operating licences. The move was interpreted by some industry watchers as politically motivated, given the company’s previous issues with the government. Specifically, TeleGeography notes that Grupo Clarin has been embroiled in a series of disputes with outgoing President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of the FPV, who claims that the firm is biased in its coverage of the government. The battle has been ongoing since 2008, when the media group criticised Fernandez’s handling of farmer protests soon after she succeeded her late husband as president.

According to local new site Cronista, last week Judge Pablo Cayssials imposed a six-month injunction blocking AFTIC’s decision, meaning that the case will now be reviewed in 2016. Crucially, the final decision regarding the merger will be made by new government personnel, following the recent presidential election. Mauricio Macri of the Cambiemos party was appointed President on 23 November, ending the twelve-year rule of the Peronist Front for Victory (FPV) party.