Argentine regulator approves Telecom Argentina, Cablevision merger

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Argentina's anti-trust regulator on Friday approved a merger between Telecom Argentina TEC2.BA and cable TV provider Cablevisión CVH.BA, allowing the creation of the largest telecommunications group in the country.

The CNDC regulator attached several conditions to the deal, which was also approved by Argentina’s ENACOM communications regulator in December.

Telecom Argentina and Cablevision announced their intention to merge earlier this year following a policy change by market-friendly President Mauricio Macri’s government that allows companies to offer so-called ‘quadruple play’ services consisting of fixed line telephone, cell service, pay television and broadband internet access.

As a condition of its approval, the CNDC said in a statement the new company would have to transfer its fixed broadband services in 28 different areas where Cablevision and Telecom are the only providers. That portfolio of 143,464 customers will be sold to a new operator, the CNDC said.

The CNDC also called on ENACOM and the modernization ministry to speed up the process by which the new company must return 80 megahertz of spectrum to the state in order to comply with the legal limit for a single operator.

The regulator also required the merged company not to bundle its “quadruple play” services for between six and twelve months, depending on the region, “to avoid the advantages of being the first operator to offer the service.”

Report by Eliana Raszewski, writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Susan Thomas