26 November 2015

AGCM conditionally clears acquisition in the directory enquiries market

The Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) has recently cleared Libero Acquisition S.a.r.l’s (Libero) acquisition of the exclusive control of Seat-Pagine Gialle S.p.a. (Seat) (the Transaction), after Libero offered a suitable remedy package to the AGCM.  

Libero’s remedy package addresses the AGCM’s concern that the Transaction might result in the creation of a dominant position in the directory enquiries market. The AGCM’s investigation focused on all markets affected by the Transaction, such as online advertising, direct marketing services, internet services and directory enquiries. The AGCM’s greatest concerns related to the directory enquiries market, in which Seat and Libero are the main operators and together could have acquired significant market power.

The remedy package accepted by the AGCM consists of Libero’s structural commitment to divest part of its directory assistance service. The proposed divestment must meet the following conditions:

  1. The divested portion of Libero’s directory assistance service must be acquired within a particular timeframe by a suitable, independent third party. The divestment must be overseen by an independent advisor, who must ensure the proper and timely implementation of the divestment procedure; and

  2. Within 9 months of its receipt of the AGCM's conditional approval of the Transaction, Libero must report to the AGCM on the implementation of the remedies package.  Libero will be unable to buy-back the divested business for a period of 10 years.

The AGCM found that this structural commitment was enough to restore competition in the directory enquiries market, as it enables potential or existing competitors of Libero and Seat to exercise the same level of competitive pressure as Libero’s divested directory assistance business.

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