Brussels, 27 th October 2009
Mergers: Commission clears Belgacom's acquisition of BICS and BICS' purchase of certain assets from MTN
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of sole control of BICS, a Belgian carrier of international telecommunications services, by Belgacom of Belgium. BICS which would, in turn, acquire the international carrier business of MTN of South Africa. After examining the operation, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.
Belgacom is the incumbent telecommunications operator in Belgium. BICS is a provider of international wholesale telecommunications services and is currently jointly controlled by Belgacom and Swisscom, Switzerland's incumbent telecommunications operator. MTN is a mobile telecommunications operator with significant activities in Africa.
The proposed concentration involves two interrelated transactions. First, Belgacom would acquire sole control over BICS. Secondly, BICS would acquire MTN's activities in the international wholesale services area. Swisscom and MTN would retain a minority shareholding in BICS.
The Commission found that the proposed concentration would not give rise to any competition concerns, given the very small market share of BICS in the global market for wholesale telecommunications services. The Commission also analysed whether the acquisition of MTN's wholesale business would close off BICS' competitors from certain African countries in which MTN has an important position. However, the investigation found that a number of alternatives were available to route international traffic to those countries.
Further information on the case will be available at: