Michael Golan skips hearing as ministry signals openness to sale

Golan was not the end-all and be-all of competition, and the ministry had to concern itself as to whether enough investment was being made in infrastructure.

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November 10, 2015 23:04
1 minute read.
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Golan Telecom CEO Michael Golan skipped a Knesset Economic Affairs Committee meeting on the possible sale of his company to rival Cellcom, a move that would lead to greater market concentration and likely to higher prices.

“For those who do not respect the committee, we will not respect him,” said committee chairman MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union), adding that Cellcom CEO Nir Sztern failed to show up as well. “The prime minister, in his position as communications minister, and the finance minister must do everything in their power to stop the sale to Cellcom.The public will not pay for this greed.”

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The meeting followed last week’s announcement that the legacy cellular company Cellcom wanted to acquire recent upstart Golan, which became a major player in the market on the back of cellular reforms designed to increase competition.

The Communications Ministry, however, seemed to leave a path open for approving the deal at the hearing.

“The Communications Ministry is committed to competition,” said ministry director- general Shlomo Filber, but added that “there should be a distinction between Golan Telecom as a driver of competition and competition in the market.”

Golan, he said, was not the end-all and be-all of competition, and the ministry had to concern itself as to whether enough investment was being made in infrastructure. The reform allowed newcomers such as Golan to piggyback off existing infrastructure.

MK Esawi Frej (Meretz) protested that Filber’s comments opened the door for approving the deal, but Filber responded that Golan would face every sanction the ministry “should” throw at it for upending regulatory provisions.

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