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SFR/Altice hit with €80m merger fine

SFR Group and Altice have been notified of the decision of France’s Autorité de la concurrence (Competition Authority) levying a €80 million ‘gun-jumping’ fine in connection with the 2014 acquisition of SFR and Virgin Mobile.

According to the Group, the denounced practices, which aimed to make the new entity operational as soon as possible after obtaining clearance of the transaction, were performed in good faith, in the midst of legal uncertainty.

The Group chose not to refute these practices and to accept the Autorité de la concurrence’s settlement offer.

The Group chose to settle the matter in order to limit its financial exposure, given the level of penalties imposed for this type of procedural violation under the French Commercial Code.

According to SFR/Altice, the settlement demonstrates the Group’s eagerness to restore a constructive dialogue with the regulator. The Group is focusing on its key avenues for growth, which include investing in and deploying very high-speed fibre optic and 4G/4G+ networks, and investing in content such as news, cinema and sports broadcasting rights.

The decision, the first to be handed down on this issue in France, the Autorité de la concurrence has clarified the rules that the parties to a merger must observe between the signature of the agreement and the Competition Authority’s decision.

During the settlement negotiations, the Group actively participated in the analysis and discussion of these requirements.

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