The long-running feud between United Group and Telekom Srbija shows no signs of ending despite two recent legal decisions.
The first saw Serbia’s Competition Court reject an €80 million claim by Telekom Srbija against United Group and its subsidiaries Serbia Broadband (SBB), the TV station N1 and nova.rs. In the lawsuit, the telco alleged that N1 and nova.rs published false information and violated the press code when reporting on such issues as its takeover of a dozen cable operators, purchase of sports rights and overall profitability and transparency of operations.
Needless to say, United Group has portrayed the decision as a victory for media freedom in Serbia. It has also warned that if the ruling is upheld, Telekom Srbija will have to pay court costs for an unfounded lawsuit and at the expense of the Serbian taxpayer.
The second decision went against Yettel, formerly known as Telenor Serbia. Its lawsuit was filed against United Group, SBB, N1 and Adria News in an attempt to block media research on cooperation between Yettel and Telekom Srbija. United Group argued that throughout the lawsuit Yettel ignored the fact that by entering into business cooperation with a state-owned company it legitimately became a subject of public interest, primarily due to the proclaimed goals of harming third parties through cooperation between the two companies.
All this has come against the backdrop of important developments at both United Group’s Serbian operations and Telekom Srbija. SBB has just celebrated its 20th anniversary with the news that it will shortly start building 10 Giga networks and in total invest over €240 million on its business over the next three years.
Meanwhile, Telekom Srbija recently announced plans for a €500 million Eurobond issue ahead of more potential acquisitions across South-East Europe. Some of the proceeds could also be used to pay for the rights to the Premier League, for which it paid €600 million for the next six seasons.
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