Telefonica has attracted the ire of the Argentinean regulator, slapping the carrier with a $27 million (€18m) fine over the failure to inform antitrust authorities of ownership changes that could have affected the Argentine telecommunications market.
The Argentine Economy Minister Amado Boudou said the fine on Telefonica de Argentina related to its parent company's investments in Italy's Telecom Italia, claiming that the local unit had not acted swiftly enough to inform authorities. He also warned that the five other companies that belong to the Telco Group of shareholders, which holds a 23.6 % stake in Telecom Italia, would also face smaller fines.
"A fine has been put on those Argentine companies that as a result of this international takeover have changed ownership within our country," Boudou told a news conference.
In August Argentina's antitrust commission ordered Telecom Italia to sell its Argentine telephone holdings to prevent another European company from controlling the sector.
"After four months without any movement, we've set a timetable ... for this process of ownership change," the minister said.
Meanwhile, Telecom Italia's main shareholder group, Telco, denied news reports emerging this week that its Italian investors planned to sell their stakes to Telefonica.
Italian news reports speculated that shareholders Assicurazioni Generali, Mediobanca and Intesa Sanpaolo met before Christmas and agreed to sell their stakes to Telefonica.
Telco said the report was completely baseless.