The European Commission has launched an investigation into French cable operator Numericable’s acquisition of networks owned by 33 municipalities over whether the operator benefited from illegal state aid.
According to the EC, the sale of public assets to a private enterprise without appropriate compensation can be held to confer an advantage over other competitors and therefore constitutes state aid. The Commission said it doubted that this aid would be compatible with EU rules, in particular because the French authorities had not placed any public service obligations on Numericable.
The investigation relates to the transfer of infrastructure between 2003 and 2006. The cable networks were built under the aegis of the ‘Plan câble’ with support from the French state before being transferred to Numericable and its predecessor companies.