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IP/05/582

Brussels, 20th May 2005

Mergers: Commission approves joint venture between Belgacom and Swisscom

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed joint venture for international telecommunications carrier services between Belgacom and Swisscom. The Commission concluded that the transaction will not significantly impede effective competition in the EEA or any substantial part of it.

Belgacom is the incumbent telecommunications operator in Belgium where it provides a full range of telecommunications services, including wholesale and retail services, fixed and mobile telecommunications, voice and data services and Internet access. Belgacom is controlled by the Belgian State, which owns 50% of its share capital.

Swisscom is the incumbent telecommunications operator in Switzerland where it provides a full range of telecommunications services, including wholesale and retail, fixed and mobile telecommunications, voice and data services and Internet access. Swisscom is controlled by the Swiss Confederation which owns 62.7% of its share capital.

The joint venture (“BICS”) is a Belgian company created in 2005 through a spin-off of all Belgacom’s existing international telecommunications carrier services activities and related assets. Currently, BICS is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Belgacom. The proposed transaction foresees that Swisscom contributes its international telecommunications carrier services activities and related assets to the joint venture and obtains shares of BICS in return. As a result of this transaction, Swisscom and Belgacom will have joint control over the joint venture.

The Commission’s examination of the transaction showed that despite Belgacom’s strong position on several Belgian telecommunications markets, the proposed operation does not raise horizontal or vertical competition concerns. Any horizontal overlaps and vertical relationships are limited. The Commission therefore concluded that the concentration will not have any significant impact on the market for wholesale international telecommunications carrier services.


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