Competition in the Spanish Telecommunications Sector: Mergers, Football Rights, and Other Regulatory Issues

Pedro Callol, Nov 11, 2015

Spain is the fourth largest Euro zone economy with a domestic market of 47 million people. The recent recession has hit Spain hard, more than many other national economies in Europe. The telecommunications industry has weathered the crisis by competing fiercely in costs and consumer-oriented offers. One feature of the national market is the omnipresence of a historic incumbent, Telefónica, which is also one of the world’s largest operators and number three in Europe by turnover.

Notwithstanding the presence of this giant, the market is considerably dynamic and it offers opportunities for international players, with various companies having gained a foothold in recent years. There have been a number of important mergers and acquisitions lately, as well as purely financial transactions and IPOs, with companies attempting to gain scale, better profitability levels, and access to finance.

A key event in Spain from the regulatory standpoint was the creation a couple of years ago of a new regulatory Authority, the National Competition and Markets Commission, by the NMCC Act. The NMCC gathers the role of national regulatory Authority in various network industries (including the telecommunications), as well as the role of national competition Authority. This means that, at least in theory, decision making at both the regulatory and competition enforcement levels should be better coordinated, with some cross-consultation procedures having been eliminate

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