The Walloon government has announced that it has blocked Nethys’ controversial decision to sell cable operator VOO and two other subsidiaries, after determining that the sale lacked transparency, contravened laws governing local democracy and was not in the public interest. Rtbf.be reports that the government has accused Nethys’ board of ‘exceeding the negotiating mandate granted by Enodia’ (the public holding company that owns Nethys), and criticised it for failing to organise a competitive process to obtain the best price. The local affairs minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne also announced he had referred the case to the federal prosecutor’s office, as ‘issues revealed by the investigation could constitute one or more criminal offences’.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Nethys reached a binding agreement in May to sell a majority stake in VOO to private equity form Providence, reportedly without the knowledge of Enodia’s board. VOO is a partnership between Brussels-based cableco BruTele and Wallonia utility firm Nethys, making any potential sale a politically sensitive issue.