France’s Competition Authority (Autorite de la Concurrence) has imposed a fine of EUR15 million (USD17 million) on Altice Group and its subsidiary Numericable for non-compliance with several obligations related to the divestment of Outremer Telecom in the French overseas territories of Reunion and Mayotte.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in October 2014 the antitrust regulator authorised Numericable’s acquisition of domestic telecoms operator SFR on the condition that post-merger, the Numericable-SFR company would dispose of the two subsidiaries in Reunion and Mayotte as the overlapping activities of SFR and Numericable in the two territories would give the enlarged entity significant market power (SMP) in the Indian Ocean (66% market share in Reunion and 90% in Mayotte). The commitment also included maintaining the viability, market value and competitiveness of Outremer prior to its sale.
During the period in which the commitments applied, however, Outremer’s tariffs rose by 17 to 60 percent, giving customers the opportunity to end their plans without incurring any cancellation fees. The authority writes that cancellation rates were three times higher in January 2015 than in January 2014, and constituted a reversal in Outremer’s strategy of capturing new customers through aggressive pricing. Further, the authority disclosed that it was not informed of the price hikes, which were cancelled only after a procedure for non-compliance was initiated in January 2015.