BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Vivendi (VIV.PA) has offered to sell a Telecom Italia unit but may have to make more concessions to EU antitrust regulators to gain control of the company after rivals complained, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday.
The French media company holds a 24 percent stake in Telecom Italia and is seeking EU approval to gain control of Italy’s biggest phone group (TLIT.MI).
Vivendi told the European Commission last week it was willing to divest Telecom Italia’s 70 percent stake in broadcasting services group Persidera, including its current arrangements with Telecom Italia subsidiaries, to address competition concerns, according to a document seen by Reuters.
The EU competition enforcer, which subsequently sought feedback from rivals and customers, asked whether Persidera would be a viable and competitive player in the market for wholesale access to digital terrestrial networks for the broadcast of TV channels.
Respondents were given until the middle of this week to give feedback before the Commission decides whether to accept the offer, demand more or open a four-month long investigation. Its preliminary decision is due by May 30.
The person said Vivendi’s concession did not address some companies’ concerns over its ability to boost Telecom Italia’s market power once it gains control.
The Italian company could bundle internet, fixed telephony and multimedia content services provided by Vivendi, giving it an unfair advantage over rivals, the person said.
It was also possible that Vivendi may offer better prices and terms for its content to Telecom Italia than to competitors, the person said.
The Commission and Vivendi declined to comment.
Telecom Italia referred to comments issued earlier this week after press reports about Vivendi’s offer to sell Persidera when it said “the matter has not been the subject of any analysis, even preliminary, by either its management or its corporate bodies”. It declined to make further comment on Friday.
Additional reporting by Agnieszka Flak and Giulia Segreti, Stefano Rebaudo and Danilo Masoni in Milan and Mathieu Rosemain in Paris; editing by Giselda Vagnoni and Susan Thomas