News

Italy: Regulation on dominant positions highlights risk of duplication

Premium 01 August 1999

Special rules in sectors previously controlled by state monopolies were prompted by the EU and have by and large been successfully transposed into Member States’ legislation. Generally, these rules have made a beneficial contribution to the liberalisation of the markets in most EU countries. However, in markets which already operate on the basis of broadly competitive conditions, sectorial market rules may in the long term be counterproductive and risk resulting in the duplication of regulation. In this case, for example, the Law, which was undoubtedly passed with the intention of clarifying the position on the pay-TV market, is probably an unnecessary duplication of antitrust rules and has created a situation of legal uncertainty for market operators in the pay-TV sector.

Ireland: Electricity liberalisation begins

Premium 01 August 1999

The electricity market in Ireland is beginning to change. The changes are driven by the need to comply with the requirements of Directive 96/92/EC. While some of the legislation required to implement this change has already been introduced, a number of important issues remain to be resolved. These include: ownership of the national grid, the establishment of an independent manager of the national grid and the charges to be paid for use of the national grid. One of the Electricity Commission’s express obligations under the legislation is to have regard to the need to promote competition. The Competition Authority has a general jurisdiction to apply Irish competition law in all sectors of the economy. There is therefore a risk that the two agencies will take conflicting actions in relation to a given competition problem in the electricity sector. Such conflicts have already arisen in relation to actions taken by the Competition Authority and the Director of Telecommunications Regulation in the telecoms sector.

Supermarket enquiry

Premium 01 July 1999

The UK Competition Commission has launched a 12-month enquiry into claims of profiteering by the UK’s biggest supermarket groups.

BP Amoco/Arco

Premium 01 July 1999

The newly merged oil giant BP Amoco is to expand further with the acquisition of Atlantic Richfield Co (Arco) in a stock deal valued at US$26.8 billion.

Inquiry into UK new car market

Premium 01 July 1999

The Competition Commission has launched an inquiry into the £24 billion-a-year new car market in the UK. Director of Fair Trading John Bridgeman ordered the inquiry after an Office of Fair Trading investigation suggested that certain practices by UK car manufacturers and dealers distorted competition.

Vitamin cartel

Premium 01 July 1999

Swiss pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche agreed to plead guilty to leading a world-wide conspiracy to raise and fix vitamin prices, and is to pay the highest ever fine levied by the Department of Justice in a criminal case – US$500 million.

DoJ brings antitrust case against American Airlines

Premium 01 July 1999

The United States Department of Justice has filed an antitrust suit against American Airlines for alleged predatory behaviour on routes out of its Dallas hub.

Japan Telecom joint venture

Premium 01 July 1999

British Telecommunications and AT&T have announced that they are to acquire a 30 per cent share in Japan Telecom in a deal estimated to be worth US$1.2 billion.

IBM/ATT

Premium 01 July 1999

AT&T is to acquire IBM’s Global Network business in a cash transaction worth US$5 billion.

AT&T/MediaOne

Premium 01 July 1999

US telecoms giant AT&T has launched an unsolicited US$54 billion bid for one of the world’s leading broadband communications companies, MediaOne.