Argentina Fines Telefonica More Than $27 Mn
Buenos Aires, Jan 6 (EFE).- The Argentine government fined the local subsidiary of Spain's Telefonica 104.69 million pesos ($27.4 million) for failing to notify antitrust regulators about the effect its parent company's stake in Telecom Italia had on the Argentine telecommunications market, the economy minister said Wednesday.
Amado Boudou told a press conference that the Spanish group's holdings in Telecom Italia gave it "a dominant position in the (Argentine) market," where the Italian firm holds a controlling stake in fixed-line telephone company Telecom Argentina, Telefonica de Argentina's main competitor.
He said Telefonica failed to inform Argentine authorities about ownership changes stemming from the Spanish company's acquisition of a stake in Telecom Italia in 2007.
Telefonica de Argentina and Telecom Argentina - in which the Italian firm has a 50 percent stake and Argentina's Werthein Group owns 48 percent - have a duopoly on fixed-line telephony in the South American country.
The economy minister also added that the government will present Telecom Italia with a timetable for selling its stake in Telecom Argentina, although he did not give further details.
The Argentine government in August ordered the Italian company to sell its stake in the holding company that controls Telecom Argentina.
The ruling was issued after Argentina's antitrust commission recommended the sale, saying Telefonica's minority stake in Telecom Italia would give it a monopoly in the local fixed-line market.
Werthein also has complained that Telefonica's indirect stake in Telecom Argentina gave it a "dominant position" in the market, although the Spanish group denies that claim.
A consortium made up of Telefonica and Italian insurance companies, banks and other companies reached an agreement to acquire the Olimpia group in April 2007, a deal that gave it a controlling 23.6 percent stake in Telecom Italia. EFE