the wise men of the Street of the Scale that Patrick Drahi have implemented without waiting for its approval, the buyback of SFR and Virgin Mobile.
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This is a message intended to discourage bad practices. The competition Authority has imposed, Tuesday, November 8, a fine of 80 million euros to Altice for its implementation, even before you have received the endorsement of, the redemption of SFR and Virgin Mobile in 2014. the ” The penalty comes after a significant transaction, which was structured in a sustainable manner, the telecommunications sector and the need for the making of commitments to address our concerns “, says Isabelle de Silva, the new president of the competition Authority.
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The telecommunications group has decided to recognize the facts and not to appeal the decision, an attitude which has obviously weighed in the final bill. the ” The challenged practices have been implemented in good faith and in an uncertain legal context “, has assured the operator, while wishing ” resume a constructive dialogue with the regulator “.
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In theory, the fine could represent several hundreds of millions of euros. the ” The amount is significant, because the facts took place over a period of only a few months : they have begun as soon as the notification of the transaction to the Authority, or even, for some of them, before the “, explains Mme Silva.
The fine remains a record at the global level for acts of this nature. In Europe, only Electrabel had received a penalty of 20 million euros, but the context was different to the extent that the matter involved a buyout not reviewed beforehand by the competition authorities.
The group, Altice, has scrupulously respected the rules by notifying the operation on June 5, 2014, two months after having signed the redemption of the telecommunications operator. But SFR and Numericable have started to collaborate under the leadership of the boss of Altice, Patrick Drahi himself, without waiting for the permission of the elders of the Street of the Scale on 30 October 2014. the ” SFR has lost its strategic autonomy and trade “, specifies Mme Silva.
The Authority recites a litany of behaviors overwhelming. Altice had real-time access to information of SFR and Virgin Mobile. Meetings at the highest level were held between Jean-Yves Charlier, the former CEO of SFR, and Eric Denoyer, his counterpart in Numericable, and in the company of their lieutenants respective. However, in similar cases, precautions are in place and the exchanges are confidential can be conducted by the intermediary of advice.
As of the month of may 2014, six months before having received the permission of the Authority, teams of Numericable and SFR have started to work on the implementation of new offers very high speed, SFR, ” using the box, the bouquets TV and the network of Numericable “, is the Authority. This preliminary work has enabled SFR to launch its new box, 18 November 2014, almost to the day after the approval of the Authority. However, by choosing this box, the objective of which was to migrate or retrieve cable clients, SFR, who favoured, and, until then, the development of its fiber network, has made a strategic shift to a major.
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Another example, in June 2014, Altice is directly involved in the commercial policy of SFR, asking him to suspend a promotional offer on the fibre, which was to continue until August. Between may and October, which is also the direction of Altice, which has validated the terms and conditions of the participation SFR Communities to a call for tenders on the development of a network of very high-speed in Seine-et-Marne. Always in October, the leaders of Altice have agreed to the renegotiation of the agreement in network sharing with Bouygues. They have also denied a number of it investments in SFR.
” Finally, Altice has replaced SFR “
Finally, SFR and Altice are coordinated to redeem on Virgin Mobile. At the outset, SFR had planned to resume the small operator. Then, ” the CEO of SFR [M. Charlier] a communiqué to the president of Altice [M. Drahi] the amount of the offer. Finally, Altice has replaced SFR “, indicates the Authority. Appointed on November 18, 2014, the new ceo of Virgin Mobile, Pascal Rialland, has taken up its functions as of the month of October, and while the Authority has given its green light to the redemption on November 27.
internally, some had raised the risk of breaking the rules of the competition Authority, but obviously, Mr. Drahi, who was himself the operations, has had cure. the ” In the French practice, we had never had this type of practice. This is a textbook case. Companies need to learn lessons “, concludes Mme Silva.
Why Altice has he taken such a risk ? Maybe that’s because the time gained on the transaction well worth the 80 million euro fine being inflicted, a scratch for the rich SFR.
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