Croatian telco VIPnet, which is a unit of Telekom Austria Group, plans to complain to the European Commission (EC) about the approval of a merger between rival operators Optima Telekom and H1 Telekom. As reported in CommsUpdate yesterday, Croatia’s Competition Agency (Agencija za Zastitu Trzisnog Natjecanja, AZTN) has granted conditional approval for the tie-up and has also accepted a request by incumbent operator Hrvatski Telekom (HT) to extend its management control over Optima by three years, to July 2021. HT, which has a 19% stake in Optima, was granted management control over the ISP in 2014 in an effort to help it reduce its debts and stave off bankruptcy.
According to a report from SeeNews, VIPnet feels that the links between HT, Optima and H1 are unacceptable as it means that HT effectively controls 80% of the market. ‘Not one operator in the EU has a similar market share,’ a VIPnet source was quoted as saying. The Telekom Austria subsidiary claims it wrote to the AZTN prior to this week’s announcement to protest against the Optima/H1 merger. VIPnet has itself been involved in the market consolidation, acquiring business-focused ISP Metronet earlier this year.