BRUSSELS: The European Union Thursday said telecom company Altice breached EU rules by prematurely taking over Portugal Telecom (PT) without full clearance from regulators.
The European Commission can fine the company up to 10 percent of its annual worldwide turnover.
Netherlands-listed Altice, which is owned by French-Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi, said it “does not agree with the European Commission’s preliminary conclusions and will submit a full response… and contest all the objections.”
Altice announced its planned purchase of the Portuguese company from Brazil’s Oi in December 2014 for 7.4 billion euros.
It notified the EC, which oversees the bloc’s competition rules, the following February, getting approval for the transaction in April 2015.
In its statement Thursday, the EC said Altice had “implemented the acquisition prior to the adoption of the Commission’s clearance decision, and in some instances, prior to its notification.”
It added Altice was in a “position to exercise decisive influence over PT Portugal before notification or clearance of the transaction”.
Thursday’s announcement will not affect regulatory approval granted for the transaction in April 2015, the Commission said.