Telecoms watchdog criticises Altice’s move for Media Capital

Multinational telecommunications company Altice has seen its hopes of completing a takeover of Portuguese media group Media Capital suffer a blow after the country’s telecom market watchdog Anacom declared that the deal would create serious competition issues and impact on consumers.

In July, Altice moved to further strengthen its position in the Portuguese market by sealing an agreement to acquire Spanish media group Prisa’s stake in Media Capital.

The Portuguese media group includes commercial broadcaster TVI, a major broadcaster of sport in the country, and the largest Portuguese content producer, Plural.

Altice agreed to acquire Prisa’s 94.7 per cent stake in Media Capital in a deal that values the group at €440m ($524.4m), subject to debt and working capital adjustments. Altice already owns telco Portugal Telecom and said the acquisition of Media Capital formed part of its global convergence strategy, following its path in France, the United States and Israel.

However, in its report on the proposed deal to Portugal’s competition authority, AdC, Anacom said the proposed terms outlined five key concerns, including the barring of access to television channels. Altice is also said to have failed to explain the benefits of the proposed merger between its telco unit Meo and Media Capital.

Anacom said in a statement: “In view of the assessment made, and given the risks arising from the merger… Anacom concludes that it is liable to create significant impediments to effective competition in the various electronic communications markets, with a consequent loss to the consumer, and should not take place as proposed.”