Altice Europe – which owns Portuguese full-service operator MEO – has contacted the National Communications Authority (Autoridade Nacional de Comunicacoes, ANACOM), asking it to suspend the country’s ongoing 5G spectrum auction until rumours of a pan-Iberian merger between Vodafone and Grupo MASMOVIL can be fully investigated. According to ECO, Altice has asked with the regulator to consider whether the merger will impact on ‘healthy competition’ in the market. The fact that MASMOVIL has already bid on spectrum reserved for new entrants is understood to be a particular bone of contention for Altice.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, last month it was revealed that the long-rumoured merger between Grupo MASMOVIL and Vodafone Spain could incorporate Vodafone Portugal. Spanish financial sources suggested that MASMOVIL had enlisted Goldman Sachs to supervise the process, as it seeks to create an enlarged entity capable of dominating the Iberian Peninsula. At that juncture the shareholder split remained an obstacle; Vodafone wants a 60:40 split in its favour, while MASMOVIL is pushing for a 50:50 ownership ratio.
TeleGeography notes that MASMOVIL remains something of an unknown quantity in Portugal, having only acquired local cableco Nowo in November 2019.