News

AOL buys Netscape

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America Online is set to acquire Internet firm Netscape Communications Corp in a $4.28 billion stock swap.

Coca Cola acquires Schweppes brands

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The Coca Cola Company is set to acquire Cadbury Schweppes’s beverage brands in more than 120 countries around the world, in a $1.9 million deal.

Germany: TV concentration cleared

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The Budeskartellamt’s decision marks a further step on the road towards concentration in the German free TV market. Although Bertelsmann and Kirch were unsuccessful in their plans to jointly dominate the growing pay-TV market, it is doubtful whether the current structure of the free TV market allows for real competition in any case, especially since the Kirch Group is also a leading provider of movies and TV entertainment programmes in Germany.

Cargill/ Continental Grain

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Cargill, the largest grain trading company in the world is to buy the grain division of rival company Continental Grain. The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Scottish Power/ Pacificorps

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Scottish Power PLC has announced that it is to merge with United States firm PacifiCorp to create one of the ten largest utilities in the world, with a stock market value estimated at $19.6 billion.

Spain: Merger of sugar producers cleared subject to onerous conditions

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The decision was eagerly awaited, as the case was seen as a test of the credibility of the government’s antitrust enforcement policy. The merger was strongly backed by the Ministry of Agriculture, which is keen to create a strong Spanish sugar manufacturer able to compete with other European producers. Notwithstanding the political pressures for an ‘industrial’ approach, the government, by taking on board most of the TDC’s recommendations, has demonstrated its commitment to the enforcement of competiton law.

United States: Toy retailer engaged in 'illegal boycott'

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Reacting to the Commission’s order - which upheld the October 1997 findings of an Federal Trade Commission Administrative Law Judge - an attorney for Toys ‘R’ Us was reported as stating that the toys retailer was 'disappointed but not surprised that the agency has upheld its own charge.' The attorney added that Toys ‘R’ Us intends to appeal the FTC’s Order in federal court. Toys ‘R’ Us has 650 stores in the United States and another 300 stores in other countries.

National Grid/ New England Electric System

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The world’s largest privately owned independent transmission company, National Grid Group PLC is to acquire New England Electric System (NEES) for $3.2 billion.

New Zealand: Commission allows regional pricing by Telecom New Zealand

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The Commerce Commission has recently upheld Telecom New Zealand’s response to the entry of a competitor into the local telephony market, where lower prices were offered solely in the target area and not elsewhere throughout New Zealand. The Commission concluded that Telecom was only 'meeting competition' and that this did not constitute an abuse of a dominant position or substantially lessen competition. The finding that Telecom was still pricing above average incremental cost (being the appropriate measure of cost submitted by Telecom) was critical in the Commission’s conclusions.

Switzerland: Early consummation of mergers/notification form available

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The Competition Commission has allowed a merger to be consummated before the first stage investigation procedure was completed, ie before the one-month waiting period provided under Article 32 of the Act on Cartels had elapsed. The Commission has shed some light on the ‘important reason’ requirement for early consummation. Furthermore, the merger notification form has recently been published, allowing for standard format filing.