Court upholds injunction on PCC probe of SMC sale

The Philippines' Court of Appeals has refused to lift an injunction preventing the Philippines Competition Commission (PCC) from reviewing the acquisition of conglomerate San Miguel Corporation's telecoms assets by incumbent operators Globe and PLDT.

The PCC had petitioned the court to lift the preliminary injunction so it could review the 70 billion peso ($1.39 billion) buyout over competition concerns.

But as well as denying the appeal, the court also directed the PCC to immediately remove the preliminary statement of concern listed on its website, which included the finding that the deal is likely to substantially restrict and lessen competition, the Business Mirror reported.

In making the decision, the court stood by the finding that all the prerequisites for the preliminary injunction had been established by Globe and PLDT. This includes demonstrating the existence of a clear positive right that needs judicial protection while the main case is still being heard.

An investigation could cause “irreparable” damage to PLDT, the court found, because its credit standing is already at risk and its ability to borrow funds to roll out services over the 700-MHz spectrum acquired from the acquisition could be jeapordized.

This in turn would imped the government's three-year plan for providing faster, more reliable and more affordable mobile data services nationwide.

PLDT and Globe have likewise been directed to cease and desist from issuing public comments and statements over the matter while it is before the courts, based on the Philippines' sub judice provisions.

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