Spain's Mediapro under investigation for anti-competitive practices

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's anti-trust watchdog said on Tuesday it had opened an investigation into Mediapro, the country's largest sports broadcasting rights firm which is currently up for sale, for possible anti-competitive practices.

Mediapro, which owns the rights to distribute the La Liga soccer championship, was suspected of applying "discriminatory and unequal business conditions" to online paid-TV operators, the CNMC watchdog said in a statement.

A Mediapro spokeswoman said the company believed it had not committed any offence.

The investigation started after a complaint by Obwan Networks and Services (Obwan), which sells Spanish sports content on paid-TV platform Opensport, the CNMC said.

Mediapro's two flagship sports channels beIN Sports and beIn LaLiga were at the centre of the investigation, it said.

The CNMC said it had not yet determined the final result of the investigation and the proceedings could last a maximum of 18 months.

Reuters reported in December that Mediapro had received 10 bids for a 30 percent to 50 percent stake, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter, which valued the company at over 2.5 billion euros ($2.7 billion).

Since then, the number of firms bidding for Mediapro has decreased, a source close to the matter said.

($1 = 0.9381 euros)

(Reporting by Robert Hetz and Andres Gonzalez; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Jesus Aguado and Mark Potter)