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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Competition authorities raid Telenor

Teams of inspectors from the Norwegian and European competition authorities were raiding the headquarters office of telecoms giant Telenor on Tuesday. They’re reportedly investigating whether Telenor has misused its dominant position or otherwise tried to restrict competition in the mobile phone market.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported around midday that inspectors from Norway’s competition authority (Konkurransetilsynet) and the European competition authority ESA showed up at Telenor’s offices around 9am.

“A group of people arrived and we opened up our offices to them,” Torild Uribarri, communications director at Telenor Norge, told NRK. “They’re getting access to information in documents and data systems.”

Uribarri also said that the authorities “wanted to examine misuse of a dominant position and/or possible competition-limiting cooperation in the mobile market.”

Telenor issued a statement announcing that the unannounced inspection was backed by articles 53 and 54 in the so-called EØS-agreement that regulates trade and other economic relations between the EU and countries within the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), of which Norway is a member. The ESA is EFTA’s Surveillance Authority.

Telenor said the inspection applied to mobile telecommunications services offered at the wholesale and user levels in Norway including conversation, SMS, MMS and data, along with mobile services sold in packages that include other products and services.

The raid was still in progress during the early afternoon. “We’re cooperating with them (the inspectors) in the best possible way, and they’re getting all the information they need,” Uribarri told NRK. “We are the dominant player in the mobile market, and then it’s perhaps not so unnatural that they want to carry out an inspection.”

Telenor also sent a message about the raid to the Oslo Stock Exchange. Uribarri said that’s standard procedure: “We inform our employees, the market and the media.” Telenor’s stock fell 1.6 percent on the news of the raid.

Norway’s competition authorities issued a statement saying they “wanted to either reject or confirm a suspicion of violation of competition laws. The case involves Telenor’s operations in Norway.” The unannounced visit, approved by a court, was aimed at securing evidence. ESA officials had no further comment.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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