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Telefónica President Criticizes European Commission’s Handling of Orange-MásMóvil Merger

 |  February 22, 2024

In a recent statement during the presentation of Telefónica’s 2023 results, José María Álvarez-Pallete, the President of Telefónica, expressed his disappointment with the European Commission’s approach to the merger of Orange and Grupo MásMóvil in Spain. Álvarez-Pallete criticized the Commission for approving the merger with significant delays and imposing remedies focused primarily on the wholesale business.

According to Álvarez-Pallete, the Commission missed a significant opportunity, particularly considering the fast-paced nature of the telecommunications market. He emphasized that the sluggishness in decision-making processes adversely affects the industry, stating, “It’s a missed opportunity, especially considering how rapidly this market moves. Agility, or the lack thereof, affects us.”

Furthermore, Álvarez-Pallete pointed out that while the Commission’s preliminary conclusions suggested no need for remedies in the wholesale market, the final remedies disproportionately targeted this sector. He acknowledged, “It’s what we expected to happen.” Additionally, he highlighted that the merger marks a new era where Telefónica is no longer the leading operator in terms of customer numbers, as Orange/MásMóvil now holds that position. This shift, according to Álvarez-Pallete, triggers a new market situation that should prompt a reassessment: “Telefónica Spain should not be regulated as it has been to date.”

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Álvarez-Pallete further argued that the current regulatory framework, which stemmed from Telefónica’s former monopoly on copper, is outdated. He stated, “The time has come for deregulation, for us to be allowed to compete without having to offer our infrastructure at a price dictated by someone who does not reflect our costs.”

The President of Telefónica’s remarks underscore the company’s stance on the evolving telecommunications landscape in Spain and its call for regulatory reforms that align with the changing market dynamics. As the industry continues to evolve, stakeholders will closely monitor how regulatory bodies respond to these calls for deregulation and the implications for competition within the sector.

Source: El Debate