Exit Algeria’s SNO claiming unfair competition pushed it out – regulator ARPT denies the charge
Algeria’s Post and Telecommunications Regulation Authority (ARPT) has denied accusations that it has helped cause heavy losses at the country’s second national fixed line licensee, Lacom. Lacom’s part-owner, Telecom Egypt, has said that unfair competition in Algeria has seen the unit rack up losses of US$45 million, El Khabar reports. A statement released by the regulator denies this, however, with the ARPT claiming that it supported Lacom by forcing the country’s dominant provider, Algerie Telecom, to stop offering WiLL phones for free when the offer was judged to be anti-competitive. The ARPT adds that it has taken ‘all the required measures that encourage fair competition in post and telecommunication markets’.
Earlier reports from Algeria suggest that the country’s second national wireline licensee, Lacom, is planning to exit the market after sustaining heavy losses. Local press suggest that the firm’s management is looking for a way of folding up the company without incurring further losses as it is now facing bankruptcy. The Lacom consortium consisting of Egyptian telcos Orascom Telecom and Telecom Egypt won Algeria's second national fixed line licence in March 2005 when it was the only bidder for the 15-year US$65 million concession.
Separately, Portugal Telecom has been linked as a prospective bidder in the part-privatisation of the country’s dominant telco, Algerie Telecom. The government is planning to offload between 35% and 51% of the PTO next year. Algerie Telecom has 2.8 million wireline customers and 7.4 million wireless subscribers.