Antitrust agency approves Multicanal, Cablevisión merger

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Argentina's antitrust agency CNDC has approved the merger of local cable TV operators Multicanal and Cablevisión, owned by Argentine media giant Grupo Clarín and US investment fund Fintech Advisory respectively, local newspaper La Nación reported.

Through the merger, which was agreed in October 2006 and involved some US$1.1bn in share swaps, Grupo Clarín and Fintech own what they claim is the biggest cable TV group in Latin America. Clarín has 60% of the new cable TV holding company and Fintech the remainder.

CNDC approved the operation on the condition the two groups would continually invest in improving the quality of service.

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However, Enrique Carrier, director of local consultancy Carrier y Asociados, told BNamericas the resolution does not set down clear guidelines as to how the investments in that quality of service will be measured.

The merger also includes the internet business Prima and cable TV operator Teledigital of Grupo Clarín, and ISPs FiberTel and Ciudad Internet owned by Multicanal and Cablevisión respectively.

Multicanal and Cablevisión will continue operating with separate brands and are currently investing some US$611mn between them to digitalize their networks.

Argentina's government is currently studying introducing regulations allowing telcos to offer TV services over their networks.

Carrier believes that once approved, telcos are likely to take a minimum of two years before they start competing heavily with cable providers in the provision of TV services.