Telkom South Africa Receives $55 Million Antitrust Fine

Telkom SA Ltd. was fined 449 million rand ($55 million) for abusing its dominance in South African telecommunications between 1999 and 2004, less than the 3.25 billion rand the Competition Commission had sought.

Shares of Africa’s largest fixed-line phone company jumped the most since March 7, advancing 4.4 percent to 18.84 rand at the 5 p.m. close in Johannesburg.

The Competition Tribunal “concluded that Telkom leveraged its upstream monopoly in the facilities market to advantage its own subsidiary in the competitive value added network market,” the Pretoria-based tribunal said in an e-mailed statement today. “Telkom’s conduct caused harm to both competitors and consumers alike and impeded competition and innovation.”

Telkom is studying the judgment and its implications, it said in a statement today.

The Competition Commission investigated Africa’s largest fixed-line phone operator and asked the tribunal to impose a fine of 3.25 billion rand at hearings that lasted until early this year. The commission’s probe followed five separate complaints of anti-competitive behavior lodged by Internet service providers between 2005 and 2007.

Telkom, based in Pretoria, must pay half the penalty within six months and the balance within the following 12 months, the tribunal said.

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