PCC gets boost in bid to review telco deal
The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) received a boost Friday in its fight to assert authority over the acquisition of San Miguel Corp.’s telco unit by industry giants PLDT and Globe Telecom.
The PCC made the announcement late Friday, when it said the Court of Appeals denied Globe’s application for temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction against PCC’s review of the P70-billion deal.
PLDT had made a separate filing seeking to stop this review before the appellate court.
Both buying telcos ran to the Court of Appeals last July 12 in a bid to stop the PCC from probing the transaction, which they said deserved automatic approval based on the PCC’s then transitory rules.
They said the deal was covered by the transitory rules, which only required a transaction notice to be filed by PLDT, Globe and SMC to be “deemed approved”. That was because the acquisition was sealed on May 30, or before the PCC’s implementing rules and regulations were issued June 3 and eventually took effect June 20.
“The court’s decision further serves to strengthen the PCC’s resolve to closely scrutinize this transaction and examine any possible adverse effects on public welfare,” PCC said in its statement.
“The undue haste exhibited by the parties to run to the courts to stop PCC’s review
is now confirmed as unjustified,” it said.
“The PCC remains hopeful that this development will encourage Globe and other parties concerned to cooperate with the PCC in the fulfillment of its mandate to safeguard free and fair competition,” it added.
The PCC wanted to know whether the deal will “substantially prevent, restrict, or lessen competition in the relevant market, or adversely impact consumer welfare.”
PLDT and Globe acquired SMC’s Vega Telecom and two related companies for their valuable radio frequencies, including almost all of the coveted 700 megahertz band. They said the new frequencies were needed to improve the quality of mobile internet. Both also returned a portion of the acquired frequencies, saying government could auction these off to a prospective third player.
Earlier, SMC had planned to launch a rival Internet service to challenge PLDT and Globe. Those prospects rapidly faded when SMC’s talks with potential partner Telstra Corp. Ltd. of Australia ended last March with SMC president Ramon Ang later citing worries over legal threats from the telco duopoly. CDG