News

European Union: Third parties' right to challenge Commission's decisions

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On the basis of the ECJ case law, it appears that third parties’ right to challenge the Commission’s decisions under Article 173 depends on their involvement in the administrative procedure before the Commission as complainants or by making their views heard during the procedure. This does not appear to be changed by the ECJ Kruidvat judgment. Third parties not sufficiently individually concerned to apply for annulment could possibly apply to intervene in relevant proceedings before the CFI if they can establish an 'interest in the result of the case' (CFI rules of procedure), which must be, however, 'a direct interest in the ruling on the specific act whose annulment is sought' rather than 'only an indirect interest in the result of the case by reason of similarities of their situation and that of one of the parties' (CFI’s order rejecting YSLP’s application).

United Kingdom: Illegality under English law of contracts in breach of Article 85 EC

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The Court ultimately rejected Gemmell’s argument that the beer tie breached Article 85, so its conclusions in respect of voidness and illegality were strictly obiter. However, there have recently been two High Court judgments which have followed the Court of Appeal’s reasoning, so it appears clear that the statements in Gibbs Mew may be treated as authoritative. Following the introduction of the new UK Competition Act 1998, the construction of which will be guided by English law judgments on corresponding matters of EC law, it would also appear that the courts are likely to take the same attitude towards contracts which breach the Act’s Chapter I prohibition, which mirrors Article 85.

Exxon/ Mobil

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If the US$75 billion merger of Exxon & Mobil goes through, it would be the largest industrial merger in history, creating a firm with a market capitalisation of US$242 billion.

Deutsche Bank/ Bankers Trust

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Deutsche Bank is to buy Banker’s Trust, the eighth-largest US bank, for US$9.2 billion, creating a global financial services firm with over US$800 billion in assets.

Swedish petroleum decision

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The Stockholm District Court has quashed a 1995 decision by the Competition Authority rejecting an application for negative clearance from Svenska Petroleum Institutet, the trade organisation for Swedish oil companies, to set up an information exchange system covering monthly updates on member companies’ sales of various oil products in Sweden.

Contact Energy/ Enerco

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The New Zealand Commerce Commission has given clearance for the acqusition of the gas retailing business of Enerco New Zealand Limited by Contact Energy, a state-owned wholesale and retail electricity and natural gas enterprise.

Owens Illinois/ Huta Antoninek

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Owens Illinois, a US-based major packaging producer, has successfully cleared its recent acquisition of a majority of shares in a Polish glass manufacturer, Huta Antoninek.

Australia: ACCC claims Telstra's commercial 'churn' service is anti-competitive

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From July 1 1997, the ACCC assumed the primary role for competition and economic regulation of telecommunications services and has not hesitated to use its new powers. The ACCC set out certain allegations against Telstra Corporation Ltd in relation to its local call transfer process in two competition notices. A competition notice is the method by which the ACCC sets out a contravention of the competition rule, which prohibits a carrier or carriage service provider from engaging in anti-competitive conduct. The ACCC took the view that Telstra had not modified its conduct as described in the competition notices and instituted proceedings against it.

Canada: Director fails to block ICG/ Superior

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The Competition Bureau was thwarted in its attempt to obtain an injunction preventing the completion of the acquisition by one propane company of a competitor as the Competition Tribunal, in the first such case it has decided, imposed relatively high evidentiary standards. The package of amendments to the Competition Act received a setback when Canada’s Senate rejected the Bill in its current form.

Denmark: Cartel first victim of new Competition Act

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The Competition Council’s investigation will be ground breaking in that it will set standards both for the division of responsibility between the public prosecutor and the Competition Council and for the level of any fines imposed