News

Rhone-Poulenc/ Hoechst

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A merger between French pharmaceuticals firm Rhône-Poulenc and Hoechst of Germany will create the largest pharmaceuticals and agrochemical company in the world, with annual sales estimated at US$20 billion.

Aetna/ Prudential Life

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US insurance firm Aetna Inc is to acquire Prudential Insurance company’s healthcare business for US$1 billion.

Coca-Cola/ Orangina

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Coca-Cola is continuing its discussions with French antitrust authorities for clearance of its US$825 million proposal to acquire Orangina from Pernod Ricard SA.

DaimlerChrysler price fixing probe

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The European Commission has begun legal proceedings against Daimler- Chrysler for breach of the European competition laws.

Pearson Group's newspaper joint ventures

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In February the European Commission cleared the acquisition of joint control in Spanish pubisher Unidad Editorial SA by Recoletos Compain Editorial.

Alstom/ ABB

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Alstom and ABB, the French and Swiss- Swedish engineering groups, are to pool their power generation business in a new jointly-held company which will have combined sales of 10 billion euros.

Argentina: YPF fined for anti-competitive pricing policy

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The prosecution of YPF for anticompetitive practices has sent a signal to industry in general that the Argentine government is serious about competition policy.

Australia: ACCC conducts public inquiries into the declaration of telecoms services

Premium 01 June 1999

Part XIC of the Trade Practices Act 1974 establishes an access regime which allows third parties to gain access to services that are necessary inputs in providing telecommunication services to endusers. Under the regime, the ACCC can declare carriage services and services which facilitate the supply of carriage services. These services are known as ‘eligible services’. The ACCC is in the process of conducting a number of public inquiries into whether to declare certain eligible services under Part XIC of the Act. Should the ACCC make the declarations, the rules and regulatory processes in Part XIC of the Act will apply to the eligible services covered by its decisions.

Belgium: Reform of competition law leaves questions unanswered

Premium 01 June 1999

In principle, the reform, which will enter into force in late October 1999, is welcome. However, it is unlikely that it will enable the authorities to dedicate more time to restrictive practices as the new single concentration threshold may well result in more concentrations being notified (although unofficial sources indicate that the new turnover threshold may be shortly increased). Also, the usefulness to the regulatory bodies, markets and practitioners of some of the reforms is questionable. For example, the time period within which the Council is to take stage two decisions is far from clear and this may lead to serious confusion. Moreover, it is uncertain at the time of writing whether a simplified merger notification form is to be introduced for a concentration where market shares do not exceed 25 per cent. If it is not, this is likely to give rise to an unnecessary administrative burden on undertakings. Finally, the advent of a governmental review will introduce an unwelcome political dimension to merger control.

Czech Republic: Government seeks to enhance telecoms competition with third mobile phone operator

Premium 01 June 1999

The Czech government wishes to increase competition in the telecommunications sector and will hold a tender to select a third mobile telephone operator in the Czech Republic.