EU to probe UAE telecoms firm under new anti-subsidy rules

The European Union on Monday announced a formal anti-subsidy probe targeting an Emirati telecoms company, the first action under new rules to focus on a foreign bid to buy EU assets.

Brussels has ramped up its scrutiny of foreign investment into the bloc in a bid to defend European industry, usually from rising threats from China and the United States.

The latest probe is the first against a non-Chinese company under new EU rules.

Telecoms group e&, whose majority stakeholder is the United Arab Emirates government, signed a €2.15 billion ($2.3-billion) agreement in August 2023 to purchase Czech PPF telecoms group's assets in Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia and Slovakia.

The European Commission said a preliminary probe "indicates that there are sufficient indications that e& has received foreign subsidies distorting the EU internal market".

The alleged subsidies "notably take the form of an unlimited guarantee from the UAE and a loan from UAE-controlled banks directly facilitating the transaction", it added.

The commission said it will investigate whether the subsidies lead to "actual or potential negative effects" on the bid's process or the EU's internal market.

It will specifically look at whether the "support" allowed the UAE company "to deter or outbid other parties interested in the acquisition".

Protect fair competition in the EU

The commission has until 15 October, 2024, to take a decision.

(with AFP)

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