Stan Miller, Managing Director Mobile International bij KPN, verduidelijkt in een mededeling de uitspraken van chairman Ad Scheepbouwer.
"Belgium third important country for KPNKPN maintains its current activities and planned investments in Belgium
Yesterday evening, Ad Scheepbouwer, Chairman of KPN has delivered a speech in Brussels on 2008 and 2009. This has led to a series of articles in the Belgian and Dutch press about "planned future investments in Belgium". It is clear that KPN is committed to its current investments on the Belgian market and is willing to further invest if the Belgian authorities can create the circumstances for competition to prevail.
The competitive conditions in Belgium have been extremely difficult the past years: many court cases have been initiated against Belgacom to force a level playing field for fair competition in Belgium. One example: BASE has a court case of 580 million euro since 2003 towards Belgacom for abuse of dominant position. Marcel Smits, CFO of KPN, has passed this message twice in the press last year (2008).
BASE had also to initiate several court cases against decisions of the BIPT which is notably a weak regulator opposed to OPTA in the Netherlands. OPTA has indeed imposed fines ten times higher than the first attempt of BIPT to stop violations of rights by Belgacom. KPN's position is that BIPT/IBPT in Belgium has up to now not been empowered or been willing to take the necessary actions to create a true competitive environment in the Belgian market or to take serious actions against Belgacom for abuse of its dominant position. KPN and BASE have held and voiced this opinion for many years.
In the interest of the Belgian consumer and free market, KPN and BASE would appreciate the creation of a truly competitive environment. To that event, KPN welcomes the fact that the new minister has announced that he will review and empower the new council of the BIPT. The competition council has already been reinforced by the minister and telecom cases have now become a top priority.
Despite the significant challenges that KPN has faced in the Belgian market there have been encouraging signals that the Belgian government wants to create a competitive environment in which we can compete on an equal basis with Belgacom. These encouraging signals have been supported by the fact that the Minister has on several occasions pointed out his sincere commitments to ensure this. The government has approved a draft law to seriously reinforce the powers of the regulator in Belgium. The regulator has already emposed the first fines. A new policy for the allocation of spectrum is being put in place right now. While KPN is encouraged by the new climate, we will have to see if the Belgian authorities will succeed in allowing true competition.
As mentioned in the speech of Mr. Scheepbouwer yesterday evening, the environment for KPN as a shareholder has not been ideal to say the least. The initiatives of Mr Van Quickenborne are promising, and a break from the past practices. We can see some of the results being delivered. However, let's wait and see.
KPN has invested 2 billion euro in Belgium, which is the 3rd largest investment of KPN in the world. After several years of investment in a competitive unfriendly environment, KPN simply wants clarity on the regulatory environment in Belgium for fixed, mobile and ADSL and the vision of BIPT/IBPT on the way forward for competitors of Belgacom in Belgium.KPN remains committed to invest in Belgium including mobile broadband (mobile internet), provided that the environment is created in which competition is present, the level playing field is created and the regulatory bodies are empowered to ensure that. Moreover, we look forward to the initiatives of the Minister bearing fruit.
If the encouraging signs do not prevail, KPN will be forced to review future investments in the Belgian market.
Stan Miller - Member of the Board (KPN)Executive President of the Board (BASE)"