Puerto Rican fixed line operator WorldNet has been named as the buyer of certain Liberty Puerto Rico fibre assets, which will be divested in order for Liberty Latin America (LLA) to seal the USD1.95 billion acquisition of AT&T’s mobile and fixed operations in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
The proposed settlement was necessitated after the Department of Justice’s (DoJ’s) Antitrust Division filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in the US District Court for the District of Columbia to block the proposed merger, stating that ‘the combination of Liberty and AT&T would leave many customers with only one alternative and others with no competitive choice at all, likely resulting in increased prices and lower-quality services for enterprise customers across Puerto Rico’.
Specifically, the settlement requires the sale of:
· the fibre-based Columbus Communications network in the metropolitan San Juan area that LLA acquired as part of its purchase of Cable & Wireless Communications in 2016;
· additional fibre assets, including fibre facilities and indefeasible rights of use, on Liberty’s network across the rest of the island;
· retail fibre-based enterprise customer accounts served by Liberty today, with limited exceptions;
· the right to pull fibre through Liberty’s conduit and attach fibre to Liberty’s telephone poles; and
· an option to purchase segments of AT&T’s aerial fibre-based core network.
Naji Khoury, CEO of Liberty Puerto Rico, commented: ‘We didn’t expect this condition, but we’ve always believed in fair and healthy competition, and we will comply with all of the DoJ’s requirements … WorldNet has an excellent 20-year track record in Puerto Rico and is a customer-focused company dedicated to the B2B segment and has been recognised as one of the best employers on the island.’