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Portugal regulator opens ‘in-depth’ probe of Altice-Media Capital takeover deal

Portugal’s competition authority said Friday it would launch an “in-depth” investigation into the planned takeover by French media and telecoms firm Altice of Media Capital, the owner of the country’s most watched television channel.

Netherlands-based Altice, which owns Portugal’s largest telecom operator, agreed in July to buy Media Capital– the owner of the TVI channel along with the popular IOL internet portal and several radio stations — from Spain’s Prisa in a 440 million euro ($550 million) deal.

But the competition regulator AdC said it had decided to “proceed to an in-depth investigation” of the deal because “there are strong indications that… it may give rise to significant impediments to effective competition in several markets”.

“The merger is also likely to have a significantly negative impact in the development of new TV contents and business models regarding the online broadcast and access to audiovisual contents,” the regulator added in a statement posted on its website.

The regulator said markets that could be adversely affected by the deal included advertising, television content production and pay-TV sectors.

Portugal’s telecom regulator Anacom and the media regulator ERC had already expressed similar concerns about the deal. The competition authority has the final say among regulators on the deal.

Altice, founded and controlled by Franco-Israeli tycoon Patrick Drahi, has emerged as a major telecoms player in Europe and the United States in recent years with a series of high-profile acquisitions. It bought former state monopoly Portugal Telecom in 2015.