EU fines Telefonica, Portugal Telecom 79 million euros for collusion

BRUSSELS Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:45am EST

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Spain's Telefonica and Portugal Telecom were fined a total of 79 million euros ($105 million) by EU antitrust regulators on Wednesday for agreeing not to compete against each other in the Iberian market, in breach of EU rules.

The European Commission said the illicit deal between Telefonica, Europe's biggest telecoms company by revenues, and Portugal Telecom lasted from September 2010 to the end of 2011.

The EU competition authority fined Telefonica 66.89 million euros and Portugal Telecom 12.29 million euros following a 10-month investigation that began in January 2011.

The non-compete deal was linked to Telefonica's 2010 buyout of the stake held by Portugal Telecom in their Brazilian joint venture, Vivo.

The Commission said the agreement hindered the creation of a single EU telecoms market and could have led to higher consumer prices.

"We will not tolerate anti-competitive practices by incumbents to protect their home markets, as they harm consumers and delay market integration," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement.

($1 = 0.7526 euros)

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Rex Merrifield)

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