News

Vodafone/AirTouch

Premium 01 March 1999

UK telecommunications company Vodafone Group plc is to merge with the world's largest wireless company, AirTouch Communications, in a stock deal valued at around US$56 billion.

BAT/Rothmans

Premium 01 March 1999

British American Tobacco (BAT), Richemont and Rembrant have agreed on the terms of a £13 billion merger between BAT and Rothmans International.

Exxon/Mobil plan merger

Premium 01 March 1999

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.

Correction

Premium 01 February 1999

In the last issue of GCR, our report on the BP/Amoco merger contained an inaccuracy.

Canada: Director fails to block ICG/ Superior

Premium 01 February 1999

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.

Italy: Draft decree on the electricity market

Premium 01 February 1999

When approved, the decree will continue the liberalisation of utility markets, which started with telecommunications and is expected to continue with gas. In addition to sector-specific rules and the action of the independent sector authorities, competition rules, which apply horizontally, will continue to play a key role in guaranteeing access to the market and free service provision.

New Zealand: Telecommunications disclosure regime gets qualified thumbs up

Premium 01 February 1999

The Ministry has proposed additional disclosure requirements to facilitate effective competition in the telecoms sector. While the existing regime has broadly met its objectives, the dominant telecoms player is expected to be required to disclose more specific information as to its costs and methodology for calculations.

Finland: Discounts and marketing support tied customers to supplier

Premium 01 February 1999

The decision of the Supreme Administrative Court condemning an abusive discount system applied by a dominant company shows the importance attached by the authorities to abusive pricing by dominant companies. Of significance is the fact that fines were imposed, which has occurred only a few times since the entry into force of the Competition Act in 1992.

United States: 'Per se boycott' rule only applies to horizontal agreements

Premium 01 February 1999

There has already been considerable speculation that the Supreme Court’s decision in Discon may, in the words of one commentator, '[undercut] recent FTC and DoJ thinking in related areas and [may bolster] defenses against claims in many situations that have fomented private antitrust litigation in recent years.' For example, the decision clearly undercuts attempts to broaden the per se boycott rule beyond the rather narrow boundaries of a horizontal conspiracy. The decision may also call into question recent efforts by the government antitrust agencies to base their antitrust investigations more on a presumption of harm rather than actual proof of damage to the competitive process. We can certainly expect considerable argument and numerous lower court decisions concerning the exact imeaning and implications of Discon.

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

Premium 01 February 1999

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.