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Monday, April 22, 2024
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Inquiry launched: Montenegro’s Telekom sector investigated for antitrust concerns

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The Competition Protection Agency (CPA) has initiated an inquiry into three telecommunications companies—Crnogorski Telekom, M:tel, and One—based on its own investigation, aimed at examining actions that could potentially hinder, restrict, or distort competition.

The CPA has called upon individuals and legal entities possessing relevant information to contribute to the investigation process by providing data, documents, or any other pertinent details.

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In a decision signed by Agency Director Nebojša Jovović, it was revealed that on March 12 of this year, the Agency for Electronic Communications and Postal Services (EKIP) submitted a request for an investigation into a potential breach of competition. The request was accompanied by supporting documentation alleging that the aforementioned companies engaged in practices indicative of the existence of agreements, whether written, oral, or implied, which directly dictated market conditions for electronic communication services. Such actions were purported to hinder the establishment of effective competition in the relevant market.

The initial request for investigation was supplemented on March 20 with additional information.

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Alongside the request, the Agency received supporting documentation comprising three individual acts from the telecommunication companies, all dated February of this year.

These acts indicated an increase in the minimum prepaid top-up amount for prepaid users across all three operators by the same margin. Additionally, they stipulated identical deadlines for account top-ups, with all changes slated to take effect simultaneously across the three operators on April 1.

This information has led to reasonable suspicions of collusion between Crnogorski Telekom, One, and M:tel—key competitors—in coordinating prices within the prepaid service market in Montenegro, as per Article 8, paragraph 1, point 1 of the Competition Protection Act.

In accordance with Article 28, paragraph 1 of the Act, the Agency has initiated an investigation into the potential breach of competition based on its own findings and the data provided.

The Agency will conduct a thorough investigation into the matter in accordance with Article 8, paragraph 1, point 1 of the Competition Protection Act, which prohibits and nullifies actions that aim to prevent, restrict, or distort competition in the relevant market. Such actions encompass written or oral agreements, arrangements, contracts, specific provisions of contracts, explicit or tacit agreements, decisions of market participant associations, and coordinated practices directly or indirectly affecting purchase or sale prices or other trading conditions.

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