Altech has lashed out regarding comments by MTN's senior counsel to the Competition Tribunal implying that Altech backed down from its objections to the MTN/Verizon merger, or that it changed its views on the deal.
The quotes were in an article in last week's Business Day.
In a statement released today, Altech stresses that it initially intervened to prevent cross subsidisation and bundling by a merged MTN/Verizon and, through its intervention in this merger, has achieved this stated objective for the entire industry.
"It is unfortunate that senior counsel made direct attacks on Altech in its absence, knowing full well the circumstances which gave rise to Altech's withdrawal, and in this regard Altech has reserved all of its legal rights and furthermore will be addressing the comments of MTN's senior counsel directly before the Bar Council," the statement reads.
It explains that Altech was given leave to intervene in the merger proceedings between MTN and Verizon on the basis of unlawful competition practices identified by an internationally renowned economist and on the basis of MTN's punitive tariffs in respect of VoIP over data at R21,93 rather than R1,75 per Megabyte more than 1000%.
"Notwithstanding the truncated periods imposed by the Competition Tribunal on Altech and all of the parties to the merger at the behest of the merging parties (including having to prepare and file witness statements over the Festive Season), Altech's lawyers and economists prepared a concise case elaborating on these theories of harm," the company states.
"After some weeks of discussions between MTN executives and Altech executives, MTN conceded certain general undertakings to assuage Altech's competition concerns in respect of the dangers of an integrated network owning one of South Africa's major independent ISPs.
"These undertakings were the subject of negotiations at senior counsel level. MTN's senior counsel participated in the finalisation of such negotiations and was well aware of MTN's desire to give the undertakings in order to give Altech sufficient comfort not to pursue its intervention."