News

France: Independent Broadcast Authority to get antitrust powers?

Premium 01 June 1998

Under the new law, the CSA may well only be able to oppose a merger or acquisition on the grounds that such would adversely affect the plurality and freedom of information, but not in respect of general competition matters. The Communication blurs the distinction between plurality/freedom of information on the one hand and competition on the other. By failing to allocate competence clearly in relation to competition matters, this draft law succeeds merely in perpetuating the confusion in relation to division of competence between the CSA and Minister of the Economy.

BTR/ Owens-Illinois

Premium 01 June 1998

The European Commission has cleared the acquisition of the UK’s BTR Packaging by Owens-Illinois Inc of the US after the companies agreed to shed all the glasscontainer business carried out by BTR Packaging, a unit of BTR plc, through its subsidiary, Rockware Group, at its four plants.

Italy: Autorita turns spotlight on pharmaceuticals

Premium 01 June 1998

Parallel behaviour on prices can be very lucrative in this sector where, because of the essential nature of pharmaceuticals, demand is very stable. More often than not, demand is determined by the doctor who prescribes the medicine rather than by the consumer. The problem of proving parallel conduct has always been a topical issue in competition law. In the absence of hard evidence pointing to contact between undertakings, it is likely that the Authority will rely on the Dyestuff case, in which the ECJ stated that price increases which are very similar in timing and rate of price change cannot be explained by independent market forces.

Franchising:Australia proposes mandatory franchising code

Premium 01 June 1998

The process surrounding the promulgation of the draft Code also is troubling: the original public comment period was only two weeks. Nevertheless, the International Franchise Association and other interested parties submitted critical comments, and the Ministry has now agreed to redraft the proposed Code. However, the revision will not be published for additional comments and is likely to be enacted into law later this year.

Ireland: Prohibition of takeover by state forestry company

Premium 01 June 1998

The Authority’s report is an interesting example of the divergences of view which can exist between regulators dealing with the same case. It has to be said that the minority report appears to give a more considered view of the potential effects of the merger per se than the report of the majority. If the Authority had been allowed more time to analyse the complex issues which arose in the case, it might have been possible for the differences of opinion between the Authority members to have been resolved. In any event, the Minister’s decision to prohibit the merger has dealt a major blow to Coillte’s strategic development which, ironically, was entirely consistent with the government’s strategy for the forestry sector in Ireland

Spain: Changes to Draft Competition Bill

Premium 01 June 1998

The draft bill on competition law is being revisited by the government. It appears that the government is backtracking on its initial proposals. The new proposals, which would maintain the TDC’s current independent status, are more in line with the trend at EU level to reinforce the independence of the competition authorities.

CIBC/ Dominion

Premium 01 June 1998

Just three months after Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Montreal unveiled their merger deal (see GCR Feb/Mar 1998), Canada’s largest bank, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, announced plans to merge with the fifth-largest, Toronto-Dominion Bank, which would result in the creation of the ninth-largest bank in North America.

Lockheed/ Northrop

Premium 01 June 1998

A September court date has been set for the Department of Justice’s attempt to block the US$8.3 billion takeover of Northrop Grumman Corp by Lockheed Martin Corp - despite warnings from Northrop that the delay could kill the deal.

New Zealand: Reforms in electricity industry

Premium 01 June 1998

The problems identified in the Government discussion document on the reform package are certainly not unique to the electricity industry. A similar package of reforms may well be initiated in the gas industry, while the Commerce Commission has been active in obtaining settlements from various regional councils involved in the provision of water and wastewater services, such that maintenance and connection services are to be separated.

United States: FTC resolves Intel concerns

Premium 01 June 1998

The FTC settlement in the Intel/Digital matter continues the US antitrust enforcement agencies’ activist stance in the area of intellectual property rights. The agencies will closely examine the transfer of such rights between significant competitors, particularly where the transfer results from an out-of-court resolution of intellectual property litigation. As a result, parties should structure such arrangements so as to ensure that they do not unreasonably restrict opportunities and incentives for product and technological innovation.