Philippine court freezes PCC probe into SMC sale

The Philippines' Court of Appeals has halted the Philippine Competition Commission's (PCC) investigation into Globe and PLDT's joint acquisition of San Miguel Corporation's telecoms assets.

The court has agreed to a request by PLDT to grant temporary relief while the case is before the courts, issuing a preliminary injunction against the competition regulator's proe, the Philippine Star reported.

Accordingly the PCC will be prohibited from continuing the investigation into the acquisition until further notice.

The court agreed with PLDT's assertion that the “deemed approved” status assigned to the acquisition gives PLDT a right to be protected from the investigation.

But before the injunction can take effect, PLDT will be required to submit a 1 million peso ($21,500) cash bond to address any damages the regulator will suffer if the court decides that PLDT is not entitled to an injunction.

Globe and PLDT arranged in May to acquire San Miguel's telecoms assets for a combined $1.5 billion, finally giving the incumbent operators access to the 700-MHz spectrum they had been seeking for a long time.

But the PCC announced in July it plans to conduct a full investigation into the deal to evaluate the potential impact on competition. Both PLDT and Globe responded by petitioning the court seeking to have the “deemed approved” status upheld, and these actions were later consolidated into one case.

Despite the ongoing case, the operators have wasted no time taking advantage of the new spectrum, with Globe recently announcing it had deployed more than 150 compatible 700-MHz base stations in the past three months.

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