Following a four month-long Phase II investigation, the Serbian Competition Commission granted conditional clearance to SBB's takeover of IKOM. This consolidation of leading cable operators in Belgrade represents a landmark case for the Serbian authority and is related to global trends in consolidation of cable network operators, which fosters the investments necessary for improvements to network infrastructure and competition with IPTV, OTT and satellite content providers. The merger provided an opportunity for the Commission to investigate the workings of the Serbian telecom sector in detail, especially in relation to fixed telephony, broadband Internet and the distribution of media content.
SBB is the leading Serbian private telecom operator, provider of digital and analogue cable television, broadband Internet and fixed telephony. The company is a part of the regional United Group, active across former Yugoslavia. Since 2014, United Group is majority-owned by the global investment fund KKR. IKOM is one of the major cable operators in Serbia, active on the market for ten years, providing digital and analogue cable television, broadband Internet and fixed telephony to subscribers predominantly located in Serbia's capital, Belgrade.
In the final decision, SBB has obliged to divest network infrastructure overlapping with IKOM, report to the Commission on pricing changes and offer IKOM's subscribers specific commercial terms for future cooperation.
Karanović & Nikolić was honoured to support SBB during the challenges of the merger control procedure. The team was led by Mr. Rastko Petaković, Managing Partner, Mr. Bojan Vučković, Partner and Mr. Veljko Smiljanić, attorney at law in cooperation with Karanović & Nikolić.