Serbia’s Telecom to Appeal Kosovo Fine for not Notifying Mergers

Serbia’s telecom company said it will challenge in court a hefty fine imposed by Kosovo’s competition authority for not notifying it about the acquisition of several cable operators.

Kosovo’s competition authority, AKRK, on Wednesday said it had handed a fine of almost 1.6 million euros to the Kosovo branch of the Serbian telecommunications company MTS d.o.o. for not notifying it about several mergers. The parent company said it would appeal.

“MTS d.o.o. enterprise has violated … the Law for Consumers Protection by not submitting a request for obliged notification for concentration of the purchase of 100% of the shares of enterprises VGN NET d.o.o, LIKA d.o.o, PP. PRKDS-IMPULS on behalf of I. R. – B.I. and Herc International,” AKRK said.

Telekom Srbija, which owns MTS, said it would challenge the decision through an appeal to Kosovo’s Commercial Court within 30 days.

Telekom Srbija operates in Kosovo through MTS d.o.o., based on an agreement reached in Brussels in November 2016 as part of the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue on technical issues, under which Kosovo got its own phone code. MTS was registered in Kosovo’s Business Registry in October 2015.

Telekom Srbija CEO Vladimir Lucic said the penalty’s aim was to prevent the expansion of MTS in Kosovo, adding that Kosovo authorities are “not respecting their own laws that they created”.

Lucic recalled that under Kosovo’s old law it was not necessary to register the purchase of a company with an annual income of less than 3 million euros. He added that a subsequent change to the law in Kosovo was aimed at trying to force MTS to submit an application from the beginning, and face rejection.

“We had positive experiences with the American and British administrations, when they found that Pristina was violating even its own laws. Then they reacted really well and protected us. I expect that in this case they will protect us, because this is an attack to prevent the further expansion of an operator that wants to invest and create new jobs,” Lucic said.

Telekom Srbija, in a statement published on KoSSev portal, criticised the decision as “continuation of pressure from [PM Albin] Kurti’s administration”. It said the fine was made on the basis of inaccurate information, as well as insufficient understanding of the specifics of the situation.

“MTS d.o.o. was not obliged to report four concentrations in the period between 2019 and 2021 concerning the acquisition of cable operators VGN NET, Lika, Impuls and Herc International, since the legal requirements for mandatory reporting were not met … these acquisitions did not reach the legal thresholds that would justify such an obligation,” Telekom stated.

and 21/12/2023 - 14:37

21 December 2023 - 14:37

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