JFC wary of ‘anti-competitiveness’ of SMC-telco deal
THE JOINT FOREIGN Chambers in the Philippines has expressed concern over the preliminary injunction issued by the Court of Appeals barring the Philippine Competition Commission from reviewing one of the biggest telecommunications deals in the country to date.
The JFC was referring to the move of industry giants Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and Globe Telecom to jointly buy out the telecommunications assets of conglomerate San Miguel Corp.—a deal deemed to cement their duopolistic hold on the local market amid the growing clamor for better internet services.
“Since the announcement of the acquisition by PLDT and Globe of the telecommunications assets of what could have been a third player in the industry, the JFC has raised the issue of possible anti-competitiveness of the deal. The telecommunications industry in the Philippines has become dominated by PLDT and Globe, leaving consumers with no alternative service providers despite complaints of high costs and poor service,” the JFC explained in a statement.
“The prospect of a third player last year gave consumers hope of better and more cost-friendly services either by the new player itself or as a result of the potential competition by additional players to the two telecommunications companies,” it added.
The JFC pointed out that with the injunction stopping the PCC from conducting further review of the transaction and allowing the deal to proceed, the “hope for any new players has been frustrated if not completely shattered.”
“It is unfortunate that the CA decision talks only of the rights of PLDT and Globe and their falling stock prices but misses how the transaction affects the wider public interest. In its decision, the CA ordered PLDT to post a P1 million bond to answer for damages that the PCC might suffer in case PLDT is not entitled to the relief. However, although the party to the case is PCC, it is not so much PCC that stands to lose here, but the consumers,” the group stressed. CDG
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