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TIM and Vodafone allegedly settled decade-long disputes

An Italian newspaper reported the two telco giants reached an out-of-court agreement to settle all disputes running back to 2012.

The agreement was said to have already been signed back in May, but the story only came to light yesterday in one of Italy’s oldest newspapers. La Stampa reported that at the end of May, TIM and Vodafone’s Italian branch reached an agreement to settle all business disputes, including those fines already imposed by Agcm (Autorità garante della concorrenza e del mercato), Italy’s antitrust authority. TIM agreed to pay Vodafone €148 million as a compensation for damage. This amount is reflected in TIM’s Q2 result. On p.16 of this presentation there is a note under its equity free cash flow results that says “€ 148m payments of regulatory fines”.

According to La Stampa’s chronology the disputes started in 2012 when TIM sought damage from Vodafone’s ADSL business in Italy, trading under the brand TeleTu, for unethically competing for customers. Vodafone soon counteracted with its own antitrust accusations against TIM for monopolistic behaviour in the broadband wholesale market. More cases piled up in the following years, amounting to a total of more than €2 billion accumulated claims from both sides.

In a more recent case, after the agreement had allegedly been signed, Vodafone joined Wind Tre, Fastweb, and Sky Italia, to complain to Agcm on antitrust ground over TIM’s exclusive deal with the streaming platform DAZN to stream Serie A to TIM’s subscribers. The case was cancelled in July when DAZN agreed to open the content to non-TIM subscribers.

If the La Stampa report got its information right, it would give the British a rare piece of good news coming out of the Apennine Peninsula. In a summer when the Italians won Eurovision, beat England at Euro 2020 final through penalty shootout, and pipped the British men’s 4x100m relay team to the finish line by 0.01 second at the Tokyo Olympics, a British telco may have just responded with a consolation goal worth just short of €150 million. Or £125 million, that is.

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