Law professor: Telekom Serbia & Telenor merger dishonest, illegal plan

NEWS 26.01.2021 10:24

Vesna Rakic Vodinelic, a law professor, told N1 on Tuesday the announced merger of the two mobile operators was an attempt to "silence these few free voices as much as possible" by reducing the United Group's SBB market share to less than 30 percent, as said in the planned deal between state-controlled Telekom and Czech tycoon Petr Kellner's Telenor which N1 had access to.

According to the professor, such a plan is unfair, abuse of rights and illegal.

N1 learned that Telekom’s plan was to prevent the financing of media outlets such as N1 TV, Nova S and Sport Klub.

„The authorities are swearing by European values but are trying everything to prevent the existence of free media by destroying a private company this time,“ N1 said in a statement.

Rakic Vodinelic recalled that Telekom, although listed as a joint-stock company, was a state-owned firm with the 58.1 percent belonging to the Republic of Serbia, and 20 percent to the company.

„The management structure (mainly linked to the ruling Serbian Progressive Party) monitors the ownership structure, and regardless of all bodies and organs, Telekom is managed by the state of Serbia. That is the competence of the Government, which is under the patronage of the President of the Republic (Aleksandar Vucic),“ Rakic Vodinelic said.

The state operator, she added, planned to make its infrastructure available to the private operator Telenor, to reduce the market share of another private company – SBB.

„I think it is dishonest, illegal and an abuse of rights,“ Rakic Vodinelic said, for  „a state-owned company to help a private company to destroy another private firm.“

„The merging of Telekom and Telenor would also be an abuse of rights because the legal order does not provide the right for the mentioned companies to destroy the third party with their agreement which threatens to become a monopoly,“ she said.

The professor added that „since the plan implies the transfer of media content, we are coming to the field of media legislation, according to which media concentration is not allowed.“

She said she did not understand why the Commission for Protection of Competition would declare itself incompetent in that case.

According to her, the issue raised the question of whether „it’s good to be informed from one source only?“