News

Italy: Judicial review

Premium 01 December 1997

The bottle-manufacturer case shows the need to find a system involving proportionality, in terms of the consideration of the issues, in the process of judicial review of the Autorità Garante’s decisions. This would allow a smooth enforcement of competition law. On the other hand the absence of judicial review would deprive companies subject to an investigation of their right of defence. These cases show that this delicate balance is still under review, allowing plenty of opportunity for successful appeal or delay, although in many cases TAR has upheld the decisions of the Italian competition authority.

Japan: New deregulation plan

Premium 01 December 1997

The Japanese Cabinet has approved the Second Revised Deregulation Action Plan. Some of the Plan’s measures include the review of a variety of competition law systems; the deletion of a notice requirement for international contracts; and the submission of an omnibus bill to repeal, reform, or review many of the systems which provide exemptions from the Antimonopoly Act.

Spain: Competition law reform

Premium 01 December 1997

Although details of the reforms are not yet available, the intention of the government is to introduce far-reaching changes to the Spanish competition law system. In principle, reform is welcome. Firstly, it will introduce a more independent and powerful competition authority by separating the current SDC from the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The new reforms will also align the domestic merger control system with the European trend of moving to compulsory regimes. While the TDC currently examines only two or three concentrations per year, the German or Italian authorities examine several hundred. Finally, the changes to the state aid rules (an area which traditionally has a very low rate of enforcement in Spain) will also be significant, allowing interested third parties to request the intervention of the competition authorities.

Sweden: Posten AB v Competition Authority

Premium 01 December 1997

The Swedish court has examined the burden of proof on the Competition Authority in predatory pricing cases. It found that where the alleged infringer had utilised generally accepted accounting principles, answered the Authority’s questions and not concealed information, the burden of proof was on the Authority to prove that the alleged infringer had abused its dominant position.

United Kingdom: Common merger application form

Premium 01 December 1997

As an attempt to simplify procedures, the move to a uniformly recognised questionnaire should be welcomed. As a practical matter, however, the benefits of the new system are limited. The new form reflects the difficulties involved in achieving effective simplification.

Sentrachem/Dow Chemical

Premium 01 November 1997

US-based giant Dow Chemical announced at the end of August that the board of directors of South African based chemical company Sentrachem had accepted its revised offer to acquire all the shares of Sentrachem. Dow’s revised offer is 11.75 South African rand per share (US $2.50).

AT&T/STET/Unisource

Premium 01 November 1997

US telecommunications giant AT&T and Italian telecommunications group Stet/Telcom Italia formed a 50-50 strategic partnership in Latin America in July, while in Europe Stet/Telcom Italia joined the pan-European joint venture between AT&T and Unisource NV.

Capital Radio/Virgin Radio

Premium 01 November 1997

UK-based radio stations Capital Radio and Virgin Radio’s plan to merge was referred to the MMC in July.

PacifiCorp/The Energy Group

Premium 01 November 1997

US energy company PacifiCorp made a £3.6 billion cash offer for UK-based The Energy Group in June, which is being investigated by the MMC in the UK.

National Express Group/ScotRail franchise/Central Trains franchise

Premium 01 November 1997

UK-based rail operator National Express Group acquired the seven-year franchises of Scotrail and Central Trains in February.

Travelers Group/Salomon

Premium 01 November 1997

US financial conglomerate Travelers Group and US bank Salomon announced in September that they had agreed to merge Salomon with Travelers Group’s Smith Barney Holdings to create Salomon Smith Barney.

PriceWaterhouse/Coopers & Lybrand

Premium 01 November 1997

International accounting and management consultancy firms Coopers & Lybrand and Price Waterhouse announced plans to merge on 18 September.