Double Dutch web

UPC stox dive in wake of regulatory report

AMSTERDAM — Troubled United Pan-Europe Communications shares hit record lows on the Amsterdam stock exchange (AEX) on Wednesday after two Dutch regulators published a joint report that concluded the Dutch Net market could be divided in two.

UPC owns close to 40% of the cable market and its Internet service provider, Chello Broadband, has 95% of the broadband market. If the report’s findings were carried into law, it would mean UPC would be compelled to open up its cable networks to other ISPs.

The report, issued by Dutch telecom watchdog Opta in tandem with competition guardian Nederlands Competition Authority (NMA), said the Internet sector could be split into high-speed broadband and narrowband dial-up sectors.

Release of the report sent stocks diving 21% on Wednesday to an all-time low of 7.40 euros ($6).

UPC has been hit hard by the Internet tech stock meltdown and worries by analysts over $5.85 billion in debt; the company is down to about one-tenth of its peak value.

The recommendations are subject to feedback from European regulatory bodies. The final draft of the report will be issued to the proper Dutch government agencies to be drafted into law.

UPC has indicated it will abide by their decisions.

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