Euro Union unveils Portugal deal

Telecom's cable spinoff ignites monopoly debate

LISON — The European Union unveiled telco regulations Nov. 13 — and the first deal likely to come under the spotlight is Portugal Telecom’s Nov. 7 spinoff its cable TV subsidiary PT Multimedia.

Brussels, which also plans to create an electronic communications body empowered to intervene in national markets, has already stated that it’s unhappy with the level of monopoly in Portugal.

The PT/PTM spinoff has sparked complaints because both still share the same shareholding structure, as Abel Mateus, president of Portugal’s Competition Authority, pointed out.

Incumbent telco PT was obliged to spinoff PTM, which reps over 80% of local satellite and cable TV business.

But PT distributed its 58.4% holding in PTM shares to PT shareholders, and hung on to an 8.3% stake.

PTM’s largest shareholders are local banks CGD, with 15%, and BES, with 9%, which are also PT’s leading shareholders and strategic partners.

PTM has separate management from PT, led by Rodrigo Costa, and will change its name and brand image in January.

But competitors, including telco rival Sonae, do not believe that genuine competition has been introduced.

While viewing the PTM spinoff as “useful,” EU commissioner for Information Society and Media, Viviane Reding told Portuguese newspaper Diario Economico it “doesn’t go far enough.”

She insists management of networks must be unbundled from the provision of phone services.

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