SMC deal with Globe-PLDT is test case for PH Competition Commission

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The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has formally taken cognizance of the P69.1-billion sale of San Miguel Corporation?s telecom assets to dominant telcos Globe Telecom and PLDT.

The Philippine Competition Commission officials, led by chair Arsenio Balisacan (middle)
The Philippine Competition Commission officials, led by chair Arsenio Balisacan (middle)

In a statement, the PCC said it is within its powers to probe the mammoth deal since it is empowered under the law to ?evaluate all business agreements and transactions that may have potential impacts on market competition.?

The transaction is the first case taken up the commission since the Philippine Competition Act, which created it, was passed in July 2015.

?In view of the importance of this transaction to the public interest, the PCC will assert all of its powers as provided for in the law,? the commission declared.

The Philippine Competition Act mandates the commission to evaluate merger or acquisition agreements ?that substantially prevent, restrict or lessen competition are prohibited.?

Parties to the merger or acquisition agreement where the value of the transaction exceeds P1 billion are required to notify the commission of such agreement, and they cannot consummate the same without its approval.

The law also allows the commission to prescribe other criteria, such as increased market share in excess of minimum thresholds, that would trigger the notification requirement.

In response to comments that it has yet to issue an IRR (implementing rules and regulations), the agency also stated that Philippine Competition Act does not require the final issuance of an IRR to trigger effectivity.

?Because of the strong public clamor for faster, cheaper, and better quality Internet and mobile services, and that these could be stymied by a lack of competition in the sector, the Commission has a keen interest in this proposed transaction,? it said.

The commission said it will gather more information and details on the transaction, and until such time, will refrain from commenting further on the transaction.

?We assure the public and the parties that the Commission recognizes the urgency of the matter and will move quickly to reach a fair assessment,? it added. ?All of the Commission?s actions are directed by its mandate to advance consumer welfare and protect the public interest through promotion of fair competition.?

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