Competition body fights to continue probe of Globe-PLDT deal

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Mobile internet is a lucrative and fast-growing business for Globe and PLDT.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The competition watchdog is fighting the stay order issued by the Court of Appeals (CA) on its investigation into Globe Telecom, Inc. and PLDT, Inc.'s mega deal.

On behalf of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), the Office of the Solicitor General filed a motion for reconsideration (MR) with the CA on Wednesday, a document obtained by CNN Philippines showed.

"By granting the injunctive relief, the Honorable Court has effectively preiudged, and, in fact, has practically disposed of the case on the merits," the motion read.

The PCC was investigating Globe and PLDT's P70-billion buyout of San Miguel Corp.'s telecommunications business in May. Central to the deal was their acquisition of San Miguel's 700-megahertz frequency spectrum, which is crucial to speed up mobile internet — a lucrative business for Globe and PLDT.

Globe and PLDT insist the PCC has no authority to review the deal since it had informed the watchdog of the deal, as required by the law.

The PCC maintains the deal was not "deemed approved" since the telco giants did not submit all the information required of them.

Competition officials have been careful to say the investigation does not necessarily mean the Globe-PLDT deal is uncompetitive. But the injunction effectively assumes that it will rule the deal out, according to the MR.

Moreover, the motion states the court is not preserving the status quo by issuing the stay order. It is, in fact, altering it by allowing Globe and PLDT to make use of the 700-megahertz frequency spectrum, even without the PCC's go-ahead.

The Competition Law empowers the PCC to fine companies who act on mergers and acquisitions without approval. Globe and PLDT have already begun building a number of cell sites across the country that use the 700-megahertz frequency spectrum.

The antitrust body urged the CA to weigh the private interest of Globe and PLDT against the public's interest in fair competition and quality telecommunications services.

"It must be borne in mind that the subject acquisition is an exceedingly complex transaction involving the use and allocation of a scarce and extremely valuable public resource — radio frequencies," the motion read.