The Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) says it has launched ‘public administrative proceedings’ to review an application regarding the potential purchase of Caucasus Online’s retail business by Vimpelcom-owned mobile operator Mobitel (Beeline). In November last year the two companies submitted a joint application regarding the proposed transaction, under which Caucasus Online would divide its business into two parts, transferring its retail services business segment (IPTV, VoIP and internet) to Mobitel, while retaining and continuing to strengthen the operation of its wholesale segment (network infrastructure), including the 1,200km Caucasus Cable System, which stretches across the Black Sea between Georgia and Bulgaria, providing direct access to Western Europe. A public hearing session to discuss the deal will be held on 9 February 2016, following which the GNCC is expected to make a decision within ten working days.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in November last year the GNCC gave prior approval to a potential acquisition of Caucasus Online by fixed-wireless and mobile operator MagtiCom. After examining the possible impact that a purchase of Caucasus Online’s operating assets by MagtiCom would have on the relevant market segments, the watchdog determined that the transaction would have no negative effect on existing competition in the mobile, IPTV, VoIP and retail internet sectors.